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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Oh My Kadavule review: Of friendship, romance and second chances

Oh My Kadavule review: This Ashok Selvan and Ritika Singh film largely works because of the fantasy spin and the fun treatment to the subject matter—but the writing is problematic.

Rating: 3 out of 5
Written by S Subhakeerthana | Chennai |
Updated: February 15, 2020 8:45:48 am
Oh My Kadavule movie review Ritika gets the lip-sync right, despite not speaking fluent Tamil.

Oh My Kadavule movie cast: Ashok Selvan, Ritika Singh, Vijay Sethupathi, Vani Bhojan, Shah Ra
Oh My Kadavule movie director: Ashwath Marimuthu
Oh My Kadavule movie rating: Three stars

Arjun (Ashok Selvan) is in “love-ay illaadha love marriage.” Despite marrying his best friend Anu (Ritika) aka “noodles mandai”, Arjun remains unhappy because “friend-a wife-a paarka mudiyadha” reason. Anu leans on the bed and initiates a kiss, but Arjun doesn’t want to. He just can’t imagine kissing her because he hasn’t started to see her ‘differently’. It doesn’t “feel right”. Anu feels disappointed, but she doesn’t explicitly say it. She smiles, “Let things happen. I’ll wait.” She doesn’t believe in forcing it. Arjun and Anu continue to fight over petty things. They pull each other’s hair like kindergarten children. And this shocks Arjun’s parents as they casually enter the house. They ask, “When will both of you start living like a husband and a wife?”

The film tells the story of three best friends – Arjun, Anu and Mani (Shah Ra). It begins with a couplet from Thirukkural that emphasises the importance of friendship. At the same time, Oh My Kadavule explores relationships. Arjun isn’t satisfied with his job and wants to pursue a career in cinema. Also, we are shown that he has ‘feelings’ for his high school crush Meera (Vani Bhojan), an aspiring director who assists Gautham Menon (who appears as himself). Arjun and Anu decide to take a break from each other. They head to the Family Court for a divorce, but something bizarre happens. Arjun is given a second chance by God to fix his relationship with Anu. Watch out for those terrific scenes where Vijay Sethupathi indulges in some philosophical banter, alongside Ramesh Thilak. Yes, Sethupathi plays God, and the film doesn’t build him up so much, thankfully. We get shots of him smiling benevolently or looking wisely into the distance.

Right from the word go, Oh My Kadavule is interesting and it largely works because of the fantasy spin and the fun treatment to the subject matter—but the writing is problematic. Anu makes dosa, but somehow, Arjun feels it doesn’t look his mother’s dosa. So, he makes a big fuzz out of the whole situation. Well, Arjun could have made dosas for himself. But he doesn’t do that. Oh My Kadavule judges Ritika Singh’s character for making the dosa hard. She is a woman, so she’s supposed to make a flawless dosa, is it? Please, come on.

Anu asks Arjun the crucial question—”kalyanam pannikalaama?” when they get drunk. It looks like she was saying this just because she was high. It never seemed like they had a strong real connection. But the same film, in the second half, tells why falling in love with your best friend can be magical.

Oh My Kadavule asks whether friends can become lovers and whether a couple can find their way back to each other even after they have broken up. Slowly, Arjun does realise how much he is actually in love with Anu, and I like how Ashwath has structured Ashok Selvan’s character. The actor has a likeable presence that makes up for a bit of overacting. Ashok Selvan, Shah Ra and Ritika Singh are able to create a genuine warmth as friends, and their bond forms the emotional core of the film.

In the beginning, we get a card that reads: “Thanks for inspiring us, GVM sir”. But Ashwath Marimuthu seems a GVM ‘veriyan’. It’s impossible to miss the “coincidences”. Like most of Gautham Menon films, Oh My Kadavule has a Christian female protagonist, Raasali-like song in AYM, a road trip to Kerala on Royal Enfield, picturesque spots and characters who can’t make up their mind. Ashwath obsesses over the gentle feel-good moments, but doesn’t dive deep down into characters’ emotions. It’s all there, but it doesn’t surface. This is a film that could have been much more than what it was if it were tighter. Nevertheless, this is, arguably, the neatest of Ashok Selvan’s filmography post-Thegidi.

One of the best parts in Oh My Kadavule belongs to MS Bhaskar, who plays Anu’s father. He scores high in the second half as much as he does in the first one.

Oh My Kadavule further insists it is okay to take chances and if you love someone, let them know. However, the entire crux of the film can be summed up from the lyrics of Kadhaippoma song—”Vairam ondrai kaiyil vaithu, engae thaedi alaindhaayo? Kaigal korthu pesinaalae dhairiyangal thondrumae.”

Generally, rom-coms are constantly written off, but the genre still thrives. As a debut filmmaker, Ashwath Marimuthu has done a pretty decent job in showing how second chances matter. Also, we take home a message that the lucky ones are those who fall in love with their best friends—which sometimes happen unintentionally. The problem with Oh My Kadavule is that the on-screen chemistry between Ashok Selvan and Ritika Singh doesn’t flow seamlessly. Several scenes look staged. I am not saying this because it has fantasy elements. Those portions are the film’s biggest plus.

Arjun and Anu are shown as lovers, but they don’t do things that lovers mostly do. We don’t see them kiss, cuddle or have sex often. There’s zero sexual tension between them. Maybe it was there, but Ashwath Marimuthu didn’t want to show. But why? The success or failure of rom-coms depends on whether we believe in the relationship of the protagonists or not—and if yes, to what extent. There’s “com” (thanks to Vijay Sethupathi, Ramesh Thilak, and not Shah Ra), but where is the “rom?”

Another instance is that Meera sees her ex after a long time, and decides to patch up with him. But why she does so, hasn’t been justified properly. Also, we don’t get concrete reasons behind their break up. Certain scenes are too conveniently written. With rom-coms, we only witness the “forced” happily-ever-afters. But the course of true love is never smooth! I wish the film had conveyed this, too. Overall, if you are willing to look past the forgivable lapses and cliche-ridden scenes, you may like Oh My Kadavule.

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