Tamil Film Lover Is The Story Of A Woman Trapped In A Toxic Relationship…

A possessive, controlling man who has multiple insecurities and anger issues can be a recipe for a disastrous and toxic relationship.

Director Prabhuram Vyas explores what love truly is in his Tamil movie ‘Lover’. The plot revolves around Divya, played by Sri Gouri Priya, questioning the nature of her six-year-long relationship with Arun, played by Manikandan.

The movie has presented us with the problems and apprehension that come with exiting a toxic relationship. Here are instances of toxic masculinity that the movie has displayed. (Spoilers ahead)

Extreme possessiveness exhibited by Arun

Right from the first scene of the film, wherein Divya feels compelled to lie about her whereabouts, we see how controlling Arun can be. He expects her to seek his permission before going to events and requires her to keep her interaction with people of the opposite gender to a minimum, even if they happen to be her colleagues. Divya in turn resorts to hiding plans that she makes with other people from him.The freakish tracking of her every step causes the relationship to feel suffocating and results in a lack of transparency.

Insecurities and self-loathing manifesting in toxicity

Arun, who was previously willing to entertain his friends through mimicry is unwilling to do so after he meets the same set of people a few years down the line. This is because he feels like he has an unsuccessful career and has faltered in his adult life. Though reluctant to accept his feelings on account of his exaggerated machismo, it is very evident that he is envious of everyone around him, including his girlfriend. He can’t stand that he doesn’t have a job while she is living her life at an IT firm with a package that fulfils her needs and wants. He might love her, but even the smallest well-meaning comment, triggers him. He is unwilling to attend intimate social gatherings for the simple reason that he feels like everyone around him looks down upon him.

Putting the pressure of marriage on Divya

Arun and his naïve mother, who herself is part of a toxic relationship, constantly ask Divya when she will speak to her parents about their wedding. When Divya tells Arun that she doesn’t feel ready, he resorts to emotionally manipulating her whilst simultaneously guilt-tripping her. He doesn’t realise that a healthy relationship requires both parties to be ready and interested before taking the next step. Arun’s mother, like many middle-class parents, is of the view that a wedding will solve all of her son’s character flaws and problems in life.

Incorrigible anger issues

Right from the beginning of the film, we see Arun yelling at Divya and exhibiting reckless behaviour to say the least. On discovering that she went to her colleague’s farewell, he goes to the basement of her apartment and shatters the car window of a resident. His anger issues manifest themselves in various forms throughout the course of the film.

A point to note though is that Arun probably got his anger issues from his drunkard father who continually abused Arun’s mother for years together. This goes to show the importance of providing children with a peaceful environment while growing up. Though he doesn’t do exactly what his father does, he has certainly imbibed some of his traits.

Guilt tripping and empty apologies

Arun treats Divya like crap for the most part. However, we see him seeking her forgiveness from time to time in the form of making her apple crumble and designing her a portrait. When Divya highlights how his behaviour makes her uncomfortable and how she cannot go on like that, he keeps saying that he can’t live without her. He threatens to kill himself when she talks of a breakup, keeping her permanently shackled. He doesn’t realise the depth of his insanity till she compares her situation to that of his mother.

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Arun’s authoritarian nature

While on a trip at Gokarna with Divya’s friends, Arun gets wild when Madhan films the girls at the beach even though he had their consent. He tells Divya that her character has changed when she says that she doesn’t have any problem with being video taped in beach clothes.

Arun is also baffled by the fact that the boyfriend in another couple ‘gives’ his girlfriend so much freedom. To Arun, freedom is something a girl must seek from the men around her. He hates seeing his girlfriend being liberated. He hates seeing her have fun with people who aren’t him.

On the whole, ‘Lover’ is very real and very raw. The film presents us with a situation that many people face on an everyday basis and also depicts a very natural and organic evolution of the relationship. Though it is best to leave toxic relationships as soon as we notice the smallest of signs, it is usually easier said than done. It is heartwarming that the director’s vision of portraying Arun as a walking, talking red flag comes through, unlike certain other films which end up glorifying toxicity. The much-needed transformation of Arun towards the end, and the fact that his transformation still doesn’t lead to a reconciliation appears to make for the perfect conclusion.

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shreya krishnan

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