Not many films throw up the glaring hint of an imminent Hudhud during the first leg itself as does Vijaykumar Konda's 'Oka Laila Kosam'. It's not that it has a wafer-thin storyline that invites us to write it off prematurely but what makes the film go for a toss is the fact that the very premise is revealing of what is in store (or what is NOT in store). Add to the already cathartic beginning, there come force-fitted action sequences that are mercifully trimmed and hackneyed subplots that are too brief to make any impression - good or bad.
Karthik (Naga Chaitanya) is he who loves the very word Freedom for the first few minutes (so that there can be had a song on freedom), then starts loving exclusively the Laila of his life, albeit his less-than-normal attempts to catch her (two times, he seems to lose her out because he is not willing to run much) look contrived so as to make it possible to have a remix song reminding us of SPB but not ANR. Finally, there is one funny maternal uncle (played by Ali) who comes with a frivolous past and who now wants to play the spoilsport in his love life to no meaningful filmi effect.
Nandhini (Pooja Hegde) is she who hates flirts so much so she doesn't even clearly say why she hates a flirt when a known flirt (real or presumed) and his family tell her "I (We) love you". The film goes on and on till the day she discovers the diary (err.. book) with the ultimate secret.
Karthik and Nandhini come from lovely families and they can't do anything that causes trauma to their respective elders. Nandhini is caught in a quandary as her father's liking for Karthik makes the things all the more difficult. Sayaji Shinde as her father gets to play yet another routine role, even as Suman as Chai's father doesn't make an impact.
In a normal world, a normal girl shouldn't find much difficulty talking to a boy from an extra-respectable family the reason why she finds it hard to accept him. It is inconceivable why such a boy shouldn't be able to convince her of his honesty and decency with so much of human resources and his own artistic brain at his disposal. Of course, he does visually and metaphorically display his love for her but the fundamental vacuity persists in the audience's mind all through.
Coming from a big banner, OLK boasts of excellent cinematography. The songs are picturized well and given the weakness of the script, they are well conceived. Chai's improvement shows itself in all of the songs and Pooja's gorgeous looks add to the grace of each song.
A bevy of comedians struggle to make us laugh. Ali, Vennela Kishore, Sathyam Rajesh and others are seen in forgettable roles.
At times there come some scenes that lend the much-needed emotional quotient. Chai shines in such scenes and they are evidence that he is maturing as an actor. Pooja delivers a restrained performance all throughout.
There are attempts to make the otherwise routine proceedings look different but all such attempts end up revealing the film's paper-thin story, much against the grain.
Verdict: All in all, OLK is a film where Chai shows flashes of good talent once again after Manam. However, barring a few well-crafted scenes and nice visuals, the film lacks a strong story to keep the story going. Once watchable for the taking.
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