'Mahanubhavudu', starring Sharwanand and Mehreen in lead roles, hits the screens this Friday. Here is our review of the entertainer.
Anand (Sharwanand) is a quirky guy who wants everything to be spic and span. His Obsessive Compulsive Disorder peeves his mother and cousin (Vennela Kishore) no end.
In comes Meghana (Mehreen Pirzada), his Swacch Bharat-loving colleague at the office. Anand falls in love with the cleanliness-loving girl at first sight. Despite all the fears of she not accepting him for being an OCD-afflicted guy, she very much falls for him, the inevitable father-should-accept-the-proposal condition notwithstanding.
In comes the father (Nasser), a village head with his own love for the sarpanch 'kurchi'.
When it's interval time, something untoward happens and this is when Meghana realizes that Anand's OCD can cloud his sense of judgment. What decision does she take now? What of Anand, who is madly in love with her? Will the heroine's father have a role in all this? That's what the second half is all about.
The Trailer itself made it clear that 'Mahanubhavudu' is a spiritual successor to 'Bhale Bhale Mogadivoy'. Maruthi once again weaves comedy around his male lead's quirkiness. Just as the biggest achievement of 'BBM' was the blending of two genres (rom-com in the first half, family entertainment in the second half), this film too pulls off a similar feat with ease. Importantly, neither the hero nor the heroine is sidelined in the second half. So, Maruthi is one of the few directors who is not into offering jaded parodies and a comedy of con in the second half.
The first half is fairly on the expected lines. Anand may be in love with Meghana, but it doesn't mean he is going to shed his obsessions all of a sudden in an unrealistic world. Unlike the lovable memory loss guy of 'BBM', he doesn't make an effort to hide his disorder. Such is the nature of one's obsessions. Maruthi's character-study is fairly convincing, if not perfectly scientific perhaps.
Somewhere in the second half, Vennela Kishore's character tells Anand that God forces us into the same thing that we despise. This is where you know that the director knows how to strike the right chord. In a throwback to the cinema of 1990s, the mysteries of existence is invoked to bring an aura of inevitability and legitimacy to an otherwise cliched 'Kusthi' backdrop.
As against the harsh father of 'BBM', Nasser is quite empathizing ('Ala cheyadam athani gunam'), notwithstanding his feudalistic and patriarchal decision in the climax.
Given the nature of the hero, the village life is far from romanticized. Its unclean and unwashed habits don't give way to a glorification of insanitation and/or poverty. To this extent, the film unconsciously or otherwise does away with many cliches. (To digress, thankfully, six years later, the reformed 'son of the soil' hero hasn't settled down to doing farming, adding more pressure on the already over-burdened agri sector).
It's remarkable that, despite a one-note storyline, Maruthi doesn't falter in the second half. He keeps the hero-heroine's love-hate-love equations quite engaging.
To be sure, the first half could have been more hilarious. Barring Nalla Venu and some dull doses of comedy involving Vennela Kishore, it has nothing much to offer on this front. A couple of songs seem to interfere with the flow. It's in the second half that Sharwa's comic timing comes to the fore in the scenes involving himself, Vennela Kishore and/or Baddam and/or others.
Somewhere, you are bound to feel that Anand is not universally lovable, for the reason that there are limitations to how far certain characters can be owned. Sharwanand boldly and confidently plays a character that is an equivalent of a deglam character of a female actress. Just because he is a well-to-do, happy youngster, it doesn't mean that this is a glamorous character!
The climax is cliched and doesn't have a takeaway.
Sharwa wins for sure. His comic timing is at its best in this film. His performance in the pre-interval scene is praiseworthy. Mehreen, who gets to play a strong role throughout, doesn't disappoint. She acts really well when she has to show anger or frustration. Nasser is at his usual best; he is irreplaceable even after these many years. Such a superb character artiste, this man. Kishore, Baddam and others do their parts well for the most part.
Thaman's songs are enjoyable in the second half. His BGM is nimble. Nizar Shafi's cinematography is, once again, sophisticated.
The film lives up to the expectations. The love-hate-love relationship of the lead pair will have its many takers. Sharwa is surprisingly good. A cliched climax and a not-so-hilarious first half notwithstanding, 'Mahanubhavudu' makes for a good family watch.