Cast: Ashok Selvan, Ritika Singh, Vani Bhojan
Director: Ashwath Marimuthu
In an interview the director of Oh My Kadavule, Ashwath Marimuthu gave to Silverscreen, he said his favourite filmmakers are Gautam Menon and Frank Capra. And among his favourite films, he listed Vinnai Thandi Varuvaya and It’s A Wonderful Life. Sure enough, these weren’t off-the-cuff answers. His first film, that hit the screens for Valentine’s Day weekend, today, feels like a rich tribute to both these films as well as the filmmakers. In fact, Gautham Menon makes an appearance in the film in a short cameo. (There is a road trip, a Christian bride, a man with a crush on a woman slightly older than him, women who have careers, and… a boxer.)
What makes Oh My Kadavule impressive is how it weaves these elements, that are meant to be tributes, seamlessly into the canvas of the story. None of these feel forced or even, like they are borrowed. They feel natural. Like elements from a universe that fit snugly.
Arjun Marimuthu (Ashok Selvan), Anu Paulraj (Ritika Singh) and Mani (Sha Ra) are childhood friends. A minute into the movie, we see Vani Bhojan (she’s superb as Meera ‘akka’) as well. All of them are in a pub. Anu asks Arjun (who’s only her friend) to marry her because she doesn’t want to marry someone she doesn’t know (through the arranged marriage system). Since he doesn’t have a reason to say no, he says yes. All is okay initially but soon cracks begin to appear. He doesn’t have feelings one is supposed to for one’s wife when he’s with her. Nor is he attracted to her. They’re seen fighting and playing and play-fighting but we know it’s a relationship that is staring at a dead-end. In comes, Meera again, as Gautam Menon’s assistant director, helping Arjun out of his seemingly directionless life as well. Vani Bhojan’s role in the first half is very well written and she is in great form here. In fact, her role is better written than that of Ritika Singh’s who seemed inaccessible (written like that on purpose I am sure, but still we should have been able to see a little bit of her view of the marriage in the first half).
Just before the interval, Arjun gets what he wants (and this part is the tribute to It’s A Wonderful Life). A second chance aided by Vijay Sethupathi and Ramesh Thilak who breeze through their scenes with consummate ease. The trio is reunited in this film after Soodhu Kavvum. The second half gives Arjun a chance to see Anu in new light and the time he needed to actually have the feelings one must have for their significant other.
There are little quirks in the film as well. A bartender breaks a glass bottle in the first scene, after Anu asks Arjun to marry her. He also breaks one in the second half when Anu asks for two tequila shots in full bridal costume. Vijay Sethupathi’s (spoiler alert) supernatural ‘lovecourt’ is on Periyar Salai. There’s a Marriage Story-esque, punch-the-wall with rage kind of scene, in which Ashok Selvan is very convincing. (Ritika’s lines here too betray the inability of the writer to really see her point of view or show it to us). Though in the second half she is more relaxed (no clenching of teeth here) and waltzes in and out of the frame, even then we know little of her emotions.
Some of the staging is awkward, some writing not so organic, and the second half felt indulgently long. The laughs were also beginning to thin. The film has niggles that pop up consistently. However, Ashwath sails over these with some amount of control over the craft and with a cast that is very good. It is far from perfect, but it’s a fairly good rom com. And that’s just rare to come by in Tamil cinema.
The Oh My Kadavule review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.