Manmadhudu 2 movie cast: Nagarjuna, Rakul Preet
Manmadhudu 2 movie director: Rahul Ravindran
Manmadhudu 2 movie rating: 3 stars
At the time of writing this review of Manmadhudu 2, director Rahul Ravindran was announced as one of the winners at the 66th National Film Awards. His directorial debut Chi La Sow bagged the award for best original screenplay. The romantic comedy was produced by Nagarjuna.
Impressed by Chi La Sow, Nagarjuna entrusted Ravindran with the responsibility of directing the Telugu remake of French rom-com I Do. And, it is easily one of the better choices that the 50-year-old actor has made of late.
Manmadhudu 2 is a conventional rom-com in several ways. An unlikely couple, who are not ready for a serious relationship, are forced into an unfamiliar situation and get emotionally entangled with each other. The film employs all the tropes of the romantic-comedy genre that we are so familiar with. Yet, something is refreshing about this film.
The family of our hero Samba Siva Rao aka Sam (Nagarjuna) rejects his girlfriend Suma (Keerthy Suresh) because she is ambitious. She doesn’t cook, clean dishes or can’t dedicate time to take care of her husband. All this because she wants to become a surgeon. And, hence, she is not deemed to be “wifey material.” Given that Suma is an independent and ambitious girl, she breaks up with Sam. The break-up makes a deep impact on his life as he decides not to fall in love ever again. Instead, he becomes a seasoned lothario.
His mother (Lakshmi) puts her foot down and demands he gets married within the next three months. No, she is not lying on a hospital bed. No, she is not dying soon either. She is playing a typical Indian mother who thinks her 40-something son is still her responsibility. “Who will take care of you after I am gone?” she asks Sam more than once.
Sam devises a dubious plan after a strange encounter with a wannabe actor (a cameo by Samantha Akkineni). It causes him to hire Avantika (Rakul Preet), a waitress, who has an emotional past.
Of course, Avantika is in dire need of money and she accepts Sam’s offer. She is fighting to gain the custody of her nephew following the death of her sister and brother-in-law in a car crash. Her unstable job and lifestyle make her an undesirable candidate for the adoption. But 75,000 Euros in her bank account will do the magic. We are told why she wants that money but we are not shown why she so badly needs it. We see her visiting the nephew, who is now a ward of the state, just once. Not a single scene in the film underlines the emotional bonding between them, which would justify her desperation to engage in the ruse of an older man who wants to fool his family.
Avantika’s predicament is superficial and adds no emotional value to the narration. Why can’t she just be a girl who takes up the job solely for the sake of money? A little amorality to her character would have made her look more appealing than a shallow sob story.
The scene involving her brash ex-boyfriend, however, is very effective. Her hot-headed ex publicly gives her a brutal beating and humiliates her. The scene allows us to imagine the amount of abuse she would have undergone when she was in a relationship with him.
Rahul Ravindran has also handled the streak of adult comedy in the film with great clarity. The humour around Sam’s colourful love life never veers off into an awkward situation or becomes offensive or cringy. The comedy is neat even as some of it involves men objectifying women.
Sam’s manager Kishore (Vennela Kishore) has a crush on Avantika. We see Avantika the first time the way Kishore has been watching her. He has his eyes fixed on her back as she wipes clean a table at the restaurant. The boys at the table next to Kishore’s are also talking about Avantika. It was hard to tell what exactly they said about her. But their behaviour seemed lustful. But Avantika handles the situation like a boss and makes the boys apologise.
Rahul Ravindran has not set this story in a perfect world. The hero’s family is regressive in its thinking even as all of them seem lovely. The hero is a womanizer. Sam also seems to enjoy trips to strip clubs and so on. And yet, the film is not crass. It is an imperfect world and we should accept something good even if we find it in the most unlikely places.