By Brintha Koneshachandra
After almost a year of suspense, the much-waited Tamil short film « Love at First Swipe », directed by Thusy Suntharam from T- Factory production, starring the unprecedented CJ Germany and breathtaking Waishnavi has premiered a few days ago at Concordia University, Montreal. « Love at First Swipe » offers a fresh outlook on the Tamil dating scene by following the story of Varun and Adhavi who meet and fall in love by simply, swiping right on a dating app. The short film explores the fears accounted by most individuals of our generation: finding love, the fear of getting serious, struggles of expressing one’s emotions, commitment issues and so on. Eventually, the film tackles the question of whether a serious relationship can come out of a dating app.
Rising Tamil talents
Let’s face it. Who hasn’t been crucially waiting to see CJ Germany’s acting skills? If his talent for acting is undeniable, Waishnavi is most definitely smashing it as an actress. From facial expression to channeling her emotions to the public, the actress is full of surprise, and is doubtlessly the revelation of this short film. Acting as Varun’s best friend, Nikkil’s humor and jokes in Tamil will literally crack you up. Thusy is taking the Vadivelu’s humor scenes on a completely different level, and we love it. All in all, two dynamic duos of actors make this romantic comedy a well-balanced one. Besides, spectators can only appreciate the gargantuan efforts put together to create this short film: from the cinematic techniques including different camera angles and plans, to close-ups of actors’ facial expressions, sounds, editing to the jokes appearing at the accurate timing in the scenario. I mean, who thought curling could be so funny, right? This short film is a living proof of the successful and promising team of Tamil talents hustling through the film industry and who make short films big.
Behind this short romantic comedy lies a symbolic message representing the Tamil diasporic community. This short movie is a transnational artistic collaboration, bringing together Tamil artists from Germany and Canada. Few months ago, a transatlantic collaboration has brought artists such as Teejay in Montreal. This transnational collaboration is representative of the Tamil community spread across the world. Who does not have an uncle, an aunt, a cousin, a sister, a brother, a relative in a remote country? This transnational and transatlantic project is per say constructed at the image of the Tamil diaspora. It is beautiful to see how despite displacement, art and creativity is bringing together second-generation Tamils together. A beautiful message of power and resilience.
The short movie is also navigating within interstitial spaces, the forever in-betweness lived by most of the second-generation Tamils. Thusy is perfectly staging the bicultural context and bringing some of the Western and Canadian aspects in the short film with curling or even dating apps in general.
Being Tamil and using dating apps
Panel discussions have concluded that none of the cast have actually used dating apps (except for CJ Germany who tried it out of curiosity in his university life). This leads to questioning whether using a dating app is still a taboo within our community. Does it get awkward to swipe right on a member of our community? Are we scared to be judged and to find ourselves exposed by our Tamil aunties at the next function? Where do you go from meeting someone on a dating app to actually getting into a romantic relationship and introducing the person to your parents and saying « Amma, Appa, I met Varun on Tinder »? Beyond the romantic and positive perspective on dating apps offered in the short film, a dark reality could have been uncovered to discuss further the potential stigmas surrounding the action of dating through apps in the Tamil community.
Challenging the feminine representations
It is true that Thusy is constantly breaking new grounds with sensitive subjects: from divorce (« Acham »), to depression (« Avalum Naanum »). First, I was personally totally into the love story unveiling between Varan and Adhavi. However, discussing with a friend after the projection, I became critical of Adhavi’s role. While the positive and happy ending perspective adopted by the director is understandable, the representation of the leading female character is not challenging the stereotypical representations found in both the Hollywood and Kollywood industries of romantic comedies. Of course, Adhavi is using apps, proposing activities, and the narration of the short story follows Varun. However, one is left wondering about Adhavi’s experience with dating apps. We see Varun swiping right and left, meeting different girls. As women, we would have loved to have insights into Adhavi’s experience on the dating scene.
In addition, Adhavi appears as a sweet, gentle, caring, funny young woman, which is very typical of the female characters in romantic comedies. She is also very passive in the relation with Varun, who comes and goes as he wants. He rejects her love and ends up winning back her heart by simply faking few tears. Adhavi does not seem to reach much, other than accepting. Where is her fierceness? While the short story is definitely bringing a modern outlook in the field of Tamil romantic comedies, it needs to challenge the stereotypical constructions found in romcoms: where male figures are actively leading, and female figures are passively following and accepting. We hope Thusy’s next film will be challenging these binary, yet eternal, oppositions.
In times of massive multiplication of minorities’ representations in the media and film industries with movies such as « Crazy Rich Asians », « Always Be my Maybe », Thusy Suntharam is throwing a fresh and modern spotlight on the Tamil community with « Love at First Swipe ». Because representation matters.
 Music by Rubato, cinematography by Kolan Shan, editing by Thibz Se, sound engineering by Ambriel Sounds, make-up by Sharmika Beauty, graphics by Kawtham.T, scenario written and directed by Thusy Suntharam.