Guitar Kambi Mele Nindru: Sringara is a mood piece, with the dreamlike pace and visuals of an idealized love story, the kind you’d hear about in a song.
This review of Navarasa season 1, episode 9 for the short film Guitar Kambi Mele Nindru: Sringara contains spoilers. We discuss the ending.
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Sringara translates, roughly, as erotic or romantic love, attraction, or beauty, all of which are integral to Guitar Kambi Mele Nindru: Sringara, the ninth short film in Navarasa Season 1. But it isn’t a conventional love story. Directed by Gautham Vasudev Menon, it depicts the kind of immediate, all-encompassing attraction you hear about in songs, and the 40-minute runtime feels like one long ballad, with the dreamlike visuals and pacing to match. I could summarize the entire plot in a single sentence, but I won’t, since it’d be doing a disservice to what is at its core a mood piece built around love and relationships as arch, idealized concepts.
The main character is Kamal (Suriya), a talented mommy’s boy musician who has a five-year plan to travel overseas with his beloved mother (Tulasi) in order to hit the big time. That’s until he meets vocalist Nethra (Prayaga Rose Martin), with whom he falls deeply and immediately in love. They are immediately connected by Kamal’s music, which suggests confidence and self-awareness that his fumbling aw-shucks persona keeps hidden from view. These two look at each other just as two people who’re utterly infatuated with each other do, and the film does more with expressions and a melody than it does with its occasionally overwrought and performatively grandiose dialogue. Like Kamal, Guitar Kambi Mele Nindru: Sringara is more comfortable in song.
Navarasa season 1, episode 9, Guitar Kambi Mele Nindru: Sringara ending explained
Kamal speaking to an unseen audience functions as a framing device of a kind, and suggests more of the story that we’re currently seeing, though it’s only at the very end that we understand its purpose. It takes a while for Kamal to meet Nethra, and he spends the rest of the short film getting to know her. The earliest phases of their relationship — their first date, her meeting his mother, and so on — are sped through in a montage that again emphasizes music above all else, and most of their dialogue occurs in two long sequences that are essentially bookends. The first is a getting-to-know-you on the back of Kamal’s motorcycle after he awkwardly offers Nethra a ride home; the second is the conversation that defines his short-term future, the decision to put love above all.
After confessing their feelings to one another, both Kamal and Nethra say “I love you,” and the former decides not to pursue his five-year plan. We’re to assume that they live happily ever after — “This is forever, Kamal,” Nethra says, only for the very end of the film to reveal that the framing device is Kamal explaining to an overseas audience how their relationship didn’t work out after all. But it isn’t a sad ending. Kamal has obviously used this experience to fuel his art, and he closes with a song in his native Tamil that expresses what the relationship meant to him. Love trumps all, even if it doesn’t always last forever.