While the initial few scenes seem passable despite being overly dramatic, later the performances become loud and the extreme black-and-white nature of the film’s morality doesn’t help either.

Praveen and Rachana Inder in Love 360Courtesy: Anand Audio
Flix Review Friday, August 19, 2022 - 20:43
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In essence, director Shashank’s latest film Love 360 is all about implausibility. Set in a world where two orphans grow up together to become ardent lovers, the film harks back to the quintessential melodrama that one found in the works of Puttanna Kanagal or Balu Mahendra. The threat of danger and detachment around them is almost palpable, with the entire world contriving to meddle with the idea of pure love. And yet, love must prevail over everything. 

Ram (Praveen) dotes on Janaki (Rachana Inder) with the passion of a valiant guardian. Although the basis is love, Janaki’s Dissociative Amnesia (the makers refer to it as ‘Selective Memory Loss’ in the film) prevents her from being an equal member of the relationship, with Ram having to tirelessly safeguard her against all evil. He does so without ever complaining and mostly bearing a smile on his face, but society at large is far from being as compassionate. Insecurity and menace show up in myriad forms for the couple but their love sustains all kinds of insults and threats until disaster strikes in the most unexpected form: Janaki is found guilty of a very serious crime that could put her away in prison for several years.

Janaki’s mental illness, thereby, becomes an important element in the development of the plot but Shashank ends up taking too much liberty with it. He renders Janaki as incoherent and clumsy, and her involvement in the case proceedings becomes a liability because, as per the makers, she can never be fully trusted. Her child-like innocence is treated with silliness and monotony at times but the audience is still likely to believe that she hasn’t committed the crime, in spite of what the entire world chooses to believe (in the divisive world of Love 360, greedy cops intentionally frame Janaki for a murder). The onus is entirely on Ram to prove her innocence while he tackles the deadliest of physical and emotional challenges along the way. 

Much of the film’s credibility must be attributed to writer-director Shashank. He chooses to keep things simple and straightforward, and the first few sequences of the film serve as entry points into the world of Janaki and Ram. The tone, however, is dramatic and a tad over-the-top but Shashank doesn’t overstuff the narrative with songs or explanatory scenes: instead, he carefully intensifies the “peril” factor for the lovers as they try to wade through life. We are aware of what the characters seek (Ram and Janaki wish to marry) and every plot point occurs only to push them further away from realising the dream. 

But the writing forgoes logic and nuance in this pursuit. While the initial few scenes seem passable despite being overly dramatic, the crux of the film comes across as contrived and abrupt because of how the director chooses to stage it. The performances become loud and almost unbearable, and the extreme black-and-white nature of the film’s morality doesn’t help either. While the setting of the coastal town of Gokarna lends a unique visual template to the love story, one never sees the town itself boast of a personality. Interestingly, no character seems to belong to the ethos of the place where the film is set in. 

Cinematographer Abhilash Kalathi, however, uses his lens to capture beautiful panoramas of the coastal line and infuses that ‘golden hour’ visual flavour into the film. His photography proves to be one of the highlights of the film. 

But the narrative treads on because the director has a firm grip on the whole scheme of things. As Janaki’s judgment day nears, Ram grows more and more desperate but runs out of solutions soon enough. Aided by Arjun Janya’s superb background score which ranges from operatic melancholia to the furious and electric, the director manages to keep things brisk and montage-like towards the end of the film. He also makes sufficient room for the final big reveal to occupy a good chunk of the screen time and never seem overbearing. 

Love 360 is not a perfect film by a long shot, nor is it the most original. The film borrows sensibilities and even plotlines from many other films (Suri’s 2008 film Duniya and South Korean Bong Joon-ho’s works being classic references), but Shashank ensures that his take is full of heart and unabashed emotion. The film would have certainly fared better with stronger central performances and a sense of the real world, but the shortcomings, fortunately, do not completely jeopardise it. Aside from an exciting storyline, a memorable soundtrack, and impressive cinematography, Love 360 is a commendable take on the idea of virtues, and how true love transcends all.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film’s producers or any other members of its cast and crew.

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