WHAT IF in dreams

Brutal movie spoilers ahead for 96(tamil movie) and On Body and Soul

Body and soul are not meant to be separate forever, for both of them are complementary and one renders itself meaningless without the other. This is the thought that stormed my mind after watching On Body and Soul (Hungarian: Testről és lélekről), a Hungarian movie with beautifully sketched bipolar characters. And two days later, I was in tears moved by the hard poetic nature of life while watching 96, a soul stirring post breakup love story which will remain as a cult Tamil classic for decades.

What if scenario always haunts our minds after undesirable events. We might be wondering how different our lives would have been if few incidents didn’t happen? God has constructed our lives ruthlessly so that What if scenarios are strictly to be dreamt of but not to experience in reality. Dreams are the medicine not to cure the illness of heartbreaks but to pacify our sufferings. We can be whatever we want and can be with whomever we want in dreams. They are totally in our control and we are the story writers to give it a happy ending. This is the context where I want to illustrate the fundamental link between On Body and Soul and 96.

Ramachandran(Ram) and Janaki(Janu) will fall in love with each other. So poetic was their love during their teens such that their melody of life will eventually turn into a heart break amidst unfortunate circumstances. How do introverts live/suffer/enjoy during in love and post breakup? The life of Ram is the answer to this pertinent question, portrayed beautifully in 96.

After breakup, Ram immerses himself in photography travelling around the world, capturing the live moments. He finds his own company truly peaceful and finds comfort and feels content in teaching the same skills he possessed to his enthusiastic students. However, he stays alone away from everyone basking in his own dreams.


On Body and Soul has two unique characters. Mária, a young introvert woman, who is unaware of the intricate aspects of relations and society, is employed in a slaughterhouse which has Endre, a middle aged man having experienced everything in life, as the CFO of the company. Mária is unapologetic to her colleagues and remains alone always leading a monotonous life. Within their own mundane lives, Endre and Mária share a same dream every night in sleep, and after finding out about their respective dreams which are exactly same, they begin to talk to each other. They dream about a stag and a doe living in polar forest which perhaps are in deep intimate love with each other. Mária wants to replicate the What if situation of her dreams in reality. She experiences the pleasure of touch and the physicality of intimacy first with herself and later wants to do the same with Endre, who refuses initially.

One experiences the physicality of one’s body in subtle ways all through their life. Quite often in reality, the intimacy that cultivates between two bodies helps to connect and bound the souls together into one. Ram has his heart full of feelings for Janu and she reciprocates the strikingly similar feelings to him by gently placing her palm on Ram’s fast thumping heart which results in daringly dreadful after effects. A mere touch intensifies the emotion of bonding into an ultimate moment of soulfulness. On Body and Soul dwells deeper into this aspect of physicality of soul bounded with love.

Endre and Mária’s physicality of souls blossoms into love and they desire to be with each other whereas Ram and Janu’s childish infatuations evolve into deeper feelings of love and respect. In 96, after reunion, Janu narrates an imaginary chapter in her life to unexpected enthusiastic audience, which has a beautiful What if scenario. Listening to this, Ram disconsolately realizes how much they feel and desire for each other. Both of them would have dreamt about this sequence at least once in their life to seek solace from the discomfort their souls are facing in reality.

Endre is separated from his wife and has a young daughter. Mária is alone in her life and the innocence of her passion to bind the souls of her dream physically is astonishing and touching. This makes her to go to any extent like dreaming forever in her bloodbath by permanently disassociating her lonely soul from her physical body. Endre and Mária’s love is so pure so that they want to sleep together like they did in their shared dream……. and they finally do.

Janu too has a daughter and lives happily albeit peacefully after marriage. Janu and Ram’s love is so pure in a way that their love and respect to each other personifies the characters of Lord Ram and Janaki in Indian mythological epic Ramayana. When a moment arrives, Ram respects Janu’s marriage while she is sleeping in his bedroom by bowing to her sacred mangalsutra before she leaves him again. Their departure is physical but their teen souls remain together in a suitcase containing an old school bag which has an ink stained white shirt and a blue duppatta later joined by a yellow salwar.

96 is in theaters and On Body and Soul is streaming in Netflix.

Please don’t consider this article as a review for any of the movies. I am not an expert in that field. These are just my emotional thoughts.

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Images by Maximilian Bühn (CC-BY-SA 4.0 [CC BY-SA 4.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons), Film Companion, cinemaforall

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