There is a thing about watching good romedy dramas. At times you could get pushed in to the tedious zone by the mass action films, life dramas, and social dramas, even if they are good. But that is not the case with a quality comedy or romantic film. They are anytime a mood propeller. That is why when both are blend well in to a romedy, they are so appealing. Director Kaarthikk Sundar attempts to make full use of this factor on his directorial debut. Actors Harish Kalyan and Priya Bhavani Shankar were was last seen on the anthology film Kasada Thapara and they are back on screens with their latest romedy drama Oh Manapenne. The film is a remake of hit Telugu entertainer Pelli Choopulu. So, how has the Tamil version of Pelli Choopulu come out? To know that let us get in to the movie review.
Oh Manapenne follows the life of Karthik (Harish Kalyan) and Shruthi (Priya Bhavani Shankar). Karthik is a happy go lucky young man. He is an engineering passed out candidate who is still trying to clear his arrears. He is lazy as hell and would tail anything that would keep him from working. And what do Indian parents do when their sons are lazy? They get them married. Karthik’s family is not any different. They have a prospective marriage alliance and to fix the marriage they take Karthik to Shruthi’s home. In unexpected turn of events, Karthik and Shruthi get struck inside a room due to a door jam. They can only leave when it is fixed and it is going to take hours.
They spend the initial moments looking at each other’s face. Then gradually, they begin to open up and share about themselves. Karthik confesses that he just agreed to get married so that he could lead a comfortable life with the dowry money. Shruthi follows Karthik and reveals that even she is not interested in getting married but is pressured to go under wedlock by her father. She states that her ambition is to study in Australia. They go about sharing things from their passion to their love life. They realize they share nothing in common except their love for food.
Slowly, both of them begin to develop a liking for each other. The door is fixed and we get a twist. Karthik’s father walks in and tells him that they have come to the wrong home, and that Shruthi is not the bride that they were supposed to meet. The liking Karthik and Shruthi had developed, goes unexpressed. But destiny brings them together. Few weeks later, Karthik and Shruthi meet and they discuss about Shruthi’s food truck business. If there is one thing Karthik is interested to do, it is to cook. Shruthi takes in Karthik as her chef and business partner. How they overcome struggles and build a successful business, and how a beautiful relationship flourish between them in the process is what makes the rest of the flick.
When we have a film in Tamil cinema that derails from a linear film making track to the nonlinear film making track, it clearly stands out. Director Kaarthikk Sundar wants his film to stand out from the crowd. When it is romance, all we have seen in Tamil cinema is the relentless stalking, preposterous reasons for falling in love, and romanticization of love. Oh Manapenne refuse to adhere to all these patterns and hence is a blow of fresh air in the romance genre. There is nothing complex about Oh Manapenne. It is a simple tale of a man meeting a woman by coincidence and how it changes their lives for good. The film relies heavily on its narrative and it has paid off well.
The most striking part about Oh Manapenne above all is the way it treats its female character. There is space for the female lead to breath comfortably. The flick makes its lead characters to reverse play characteristic traits of what is generally assumed to the man’s and woman’s. Karthik loves to cook and Shruthi wants to be an entrepreneur. That is how you redefine characterization for starters. On the down side, there are few regular cliches that play peek a boo in the proceedings and a few hard to buy portions that brings down the mood. But at the end, Oh Manapenne sends you home with a great satisfaction.
Actor Harish kalyan is a fitting cast. He cakewalks his role. He has matured as an actor and is able to carry the flick quite well. Actress Priya Bhavani Shankar in another girl next-door character and is a wise choice of character. She has delivered an impressive performance. Her performance plays a substantial part in carrying the film forward. The rest of the cast has delivered what was asked of them.
On the technical front, music director Vishal Chandrashekhar’s tracks do not hold our attention for long. But his background score adds a little value to the flick. Cinematographer Krishnan Vasant’s frames are refreshing. It helps in setting the mood. Editor Kripakaran’s scissor work complement the work of his colleague well.
On the whole, Oh Manapenne has its share of dramatic and tedious portions but the flaws could be overlooked for the overall pleasantness it has in store for us.
Oh Manapenne is out on Disney + Hotstar Video OTT platform.