Title: Aadavallu Meeku Johaarlu
To throw: Sharwanand, Rashmika Mandanna and others
Director: Kishore Tirumala
Duration: 141 minutes
In a serious scene, Radhika Sarathkumar’s character tells her son Chiru (Sharwanand) that women expect their men to have a sense of humor. “Be humorous, be thoughtful,” the good mother urges her single, frustrated son. His sermon left this critic wondering how anyone can cultivate a sense of humor when half a dozen annoying family elders are only capable of haranguing or self-caricature. In the film under consideration, the male protagonist’s desperation to marry causes him to engage in clownish behavior at times. It’s just that the movie wants to pass it off as cuteness.
Chiru runs a marriage hall (if you wanted to notice). He falls in love with Aadhya (Rashmika Mandanna), who somehow loves him after saving her from potential sexual predators (this was an outdated trope even in the 1990s). Two months pass and Chiru and the overly worried elders of her family are convinced that Aadhya is going to be the wife/daughter-in-law. That’s when Aadhya drops a bombshell: her mother Vakula (Khushbu), a self-taught entrepreneur, is a badass. Will Chiru convince her of his self-attested eligibility to be Aadhya’s husband?
The film comes with a decent but curious premise. The male protagonist feels victimized by the matriarchal mentality of the elders in his family. The element of the past that haunts us and determines our mentalities is also addressed by the script. To the film’s credit, Sharwanand’s character is sidelined and the women given the space to untie the knots and/or soften their maximalist stances one fine day.
While the premise and climax are worthy enough, the storytelling suffers from dull dialogue writing. The lines are dry and unnecessarily wordy as they turn into monologues.
Usually, most rom-com tracks suffer from zero chemistry between the hero-heroine duo. In ‘AMJ’, Sharwanand and Rashmika seem to share negative chemistry. If you watched the movie, try to remember a single instance where you felt Rashmika’s Aadhya really liked Chiru. Just one. There’s barely an intense stretch that makes us feel Chiru and that’s because of his characterization. He’s always made to look like a comically frustrated guy.
With the exception of Urvashi, the rest of the senior artists (mainly Radhika Sarathkumar and Khushbu) can play one-dimensional characters who barely find their groove. They have no existence beyond Chiru. No sentimental scene involving them pulls the chord and we hardly sympathize with them until before the climax. The men of Chiru’s family are silent spectators of the circus that surrounds them.
After harnessing the talent of Vennela Kishore, the film struggles to evoke laughter through comedian Satya. Ravi Shankar has a cameo in an archaic subplot that exists precisely to save Chiru in a contrived turn of events.
Devi Sri Prasad’s background score is lackluster, but the songs are mixed (unpopular opinion: the title track is better than the rest of the songs). Sujith Sarang’s cinematography is functional.