Directed by Vikkramm Chandirramani | Review by Prarthana Mitra
[dropcap]A[/dropcap] short and sweet tale which remains true to its roots and presents a glimpse into the world of online dating in India, Destiny opens on a happy note but refuses to play by the book. Like any good rom-com, it comes with a serendipitous twist in the end following a quest for love, but unlike most, its ending is a bit unconventional.
With an impeccable grasp on the human mind and modern love, filmmaker Vikkramm Chandirramani paints a pretty scathing picture of dating gone wrong, but not so grim as to make you lose all faith in the institution of love. The conclusion resounds with and reaffirms the idea that everything happens for a reason, and all of it will have been worth something in the end. By doing so, it also shines a critical light on several pertinent problems arising out of such a ruthless dating culture that pits men and women against each other, in a contest for love.
The film with its vibrant and well-lit aesthetic opens with a conversation that all women have partaken in at some point in their lives. Tanya and Richa are twenty-somethings who seem educated, fun-loving and hailing from the urban upper class, exchanging a light-hearted conversation about recent developments in the former’s love life.
Nikita Vijayvargia’s Tanya is ecstatic to have matched with Derek on a dating site, whom she went out with a couple of times and has decided was “the one”. Irrevocably smitten by her “perfect” catch, Richa confesses about her feelings to her closest friend and confidante Richa (played by Monika Panwar), who later becomes her partner-in-crime when it transpires that Derek is up to no good. The camaraderie between the two women holds the film together in the absence of Derek, who is pushed to the sidelines by these two power brands.
Unable to accept his loss of interest in her, Tanya plays the sleuth, stalker and prankster all at once, when she decides to teach him a lesson, for hell hath no fury like a woman scorned! Although the motivation for it may seem a little misplaced, considering how rampant and widely accepted ghosting has become among millennials, especially those who regularly use online dating apps and websites. Tanya’s plight should be sympathized with, even if her mission for vengeance borders on obsession which Richa is wary about.
The film keeps the tone and its bilingual dialogues colloquial and recognizable, and its pace brisk—with fast cuts to and from places. As we hop from one cafe to another with Derek, who having fallen for Tanya’s fake profiles is getting stood up every time, we feel quite sorry for him by the end. Played by a charming Bhupendra Singh Jadawat, Derek, as it turns out, was simply looking for a more spontaneous and real love. And that is perhaps why her plan leads to a happy ending, not for herself but for Derek. Although, without Tanya’s malice and her elaborate plans to exact revenge, he may never have stumbled (literally) across it!
Smart and no-frills performances by the lead actors are matched by a neat directorial vision, competent execution and attractive mise-en-scene. The cinematography is on point, in keeping with the low-key urban, upper class aesthetic, and editing stitches these vignettes together, giving Tanya and Derek’s quest for love a cohesive form.
In the end, viewers are left pondering upon the nature of online dating, and how difficult it is to actually meet the love of your life on a platform that automates you to act a certain way and expect certain preordained things. In the end, it’s perhaps best to enjoy the experience and let things take their course. Chandiraramani’s film manages to convey all of this with a slice from what could very well real life, with a pinch of humor, tough luck and a classic case of tables being turned.
Prarthana is presently in between odd jobs and obtaining her master’s degree in literature. She loves modern poetry and meditative cinema. Based out of Calcutta, Prarthana observes people, football, films and enjoys writing about all three. Of late, she relates to Frank Ocean’s music. Her writing experience consists of writing for various sites such as Try Cinema, The Indian Economist, Doing The Rondo, Saintbrush and various academic journals.