Oopiri steals a march over others by the very fact that bromantic dramas are rare to come by in Telugu. Vamshi Paidipally resorts to a proper adaptation of the original (the French film 'The Intouchables'), taking certain creative liberties to portray Nagarjuna as 'King' Nagarjuna in two scenes (more on this later). If you haven't watched the original, you would think that some of the elements are the creation of Oopiri's writers. As they say, some dramas are universal. This is one such.
Vikram Aditya (Nag) is a billionaire who was paralyzed five years ago in a fatal paraglider accident. Seenu (Karthi) is just out from jail on a parole for a pertty crime and applies for the job of Vikram's caretaker. His idiosyncratic ways impress Vikram, who is suffocated by the pity shown by the people around him. He is immediately appointed as his caretaker and thus begins a journey of bromance, self-discovery, and an emtional ride.
Based on a true story on which the original was based, Oopiri turns out to be an intelligent adaptation with its share of excusable misses. For one, Vamshi gets the first half near perfect. Karthi's family story is neatly nativised to suit the Telugu (Indian) audience. On the other hand, episodes like Vikram's sudden change of mind nine minutes before the scheduled meeting with someone (let the spoiler not be given) is an excellent idea. The scene that follows, has Nag's character behaving like someone who has been suffering a loss for years with no hope in sight. It's so realistic and poignant.
The bromantic bonding between Nag and Karthi is a treat to watch. Nag with his sober ways, serene but slightly melancholic expression on his face meets his contrast in the bizarrely unselfconscious, recklessly unempathic (in the beginning) character in Seenu. This element is easily the film's biggest USP and Vamshi delivers a masterstroke in getting his casting right.
Nag's evolution as an actor in recent times is one under-rated story. In Oopiri, he proves a match to Karthi, who plays a character that most audiences would find entertaining. While Karthi shines through brilliantly an inherently saleable character, Nag shines through an apparently less saleable character - brilliantly at that!
One feels the second half could have had better ideas. The whole Paris episodes could have been better. It's next to impossible for any to say how they could have been like. Nevertheless, it may be said that one way in which the episodes could have been made interesting, is by changing the equations between Karthi and Tamannah instead of having Karthi do something silmilar to what he did in the first half.
Vamshi elevates Nag's heroism in a subtle way. The two scenes are here: Tanikella Bharani having to say 'Naku ooka ganta time ivvandi..' makes the presence of the quintessential Telugu hero felt. The other episode being the chase sequence in Paris where Karthi overspeeds under the direction of Nag. On the flip side, the second one doesn't excite.
The film comes into its own in the climax portions. The climax is a faithful adaptation of the original.
The first half delivers good laughs. Karthi's comic timing is marshalled to a very good effect here. Ali and Prakash Raj could have been better. Nora Fatehi's item song could have been better.
While Tamannah seemingly has a breeze, she strikes good chemistry with Karthi. Gabriella has a reasonably good glamour quotient and that's all. Jayasudha, late Kalpana, and Tanikella Bharani fit the bill. Anushka, Shriya Saran, Praveen, Manobala, Tagubothu Ramesh, and Adivi Sesh play cameos. Siddharth of Golkonda High School fame plays Karthi's brother and he fits the bill. Karthi's sister is apt.
The songs have two heroes: Gopi Sunder and Sirivennela Seetaramasastry. The neat interweaving of the songs into the narration is enjoyable. Some might find the item number and the Karthi-Tamannah duet 'Ayyo.. ayyo..' as a distraction, but it must be said that the choreography of the latter is outstanding.
If the BGM is fabulous, PS Vinod's cinematography is A-rated. Editing is slick.
Verdict: Oopiri is a bromantic comedrama that is a rare film. It comes with memorable performances, neat writing, and a deft technical texture. The second half falters a bit in terms of slow pace. But it's excusable.