Oh My Kadavule, Ashwath Marimuthu’s debut directorial venture, opens with a title card that conveys the team’s tribute to ace director Gautham Vasudev Menon.
The inspiration doesn’t stop there.
The whole script is spattered with references and tropes that one would normally associate with Gautham’s oeuvre. Two popular songs from Gautham’s films play in the background during key scenes.
There are two heroines, one of whom is a Christian. There is a love angle between the protagonist (an engineering graduate who dreams about a career in films) and a woman who is a couple of years elder to him. More than once, there is a suggestion that love is made from magic, not logic. There is a Royal-Enfield road trip (to Kerala) that the lead actors embark on. There’s even a Sid Sriram song that belts out in the background (and thankfully, no accidents this time). The protagonist meets an important character in Kerala, who is a boxing enthusiast. And finally…there’s Gautham himself, in a brief cameo role! For the makers of Oh My Kadavule, it was as if their God blessed this endeavor himself with his presence.
Talking of Gods, there’s a role for them in this film too (played to terrific comic effect by Vijay Sethupathi and Ramesh Thilak)! How- the protagonist Arjun (Ashok Selvan) blames them for a terrible matchmaking mistake in his life and wants them to make it right. When his childhood friend Anu (Ritika Singh) proposes to marry him, he gives his instant assent in a thoughtless, drunken fit.
Regrets keep piling up post marriage. He fails to establish any sort of romantic connect with someone whom he has only considered a friend for ages. He also hates the job he is forced to undertake at his father in law’s toilet manufacturing company. And to top it, the re-entry of his childhood crush Meera (Vani Bhojan) into the picture spells imminent doom for their marriage and it looks like it could be saved only with divine intervention.
For reasons unknown, full fledged rom-coms have become a rarity in Tamil cinema. At least well made ones, that is. From the recent past, only July Kaatril springs to mind immediately. I thought that film had some intelligent screenwriting, but a few obvious flaws as well. For one, a lot of the comedy felt rather shoe-horned into that script. This is where Oh My Kadavule scores so much higher. Here, everything feels beautifully organic and unobtrusive.
The comedy superbly blends in with the emotions and gets pulled in at just the right moments (Sha Ra as Mani is hilarious throughout). The shifts in the mood play out exactly how they were intended, aided abundantly by Leon James’ glistening score. The writing alternatively tugs at your heart and then also makes you laugh.
This film essentially revolves around the possibility of getting a second chance- in life, love and career. Two leading characters are at the receiving end of this privilege in this film. Interestingly, one of them actually receives this from the other, in an endearing act of selfless sacrifice. It is the sprinkle of soulful sub-plots such as this, into the rom-com mix that elevates this film into being something ethereal, rather than just functional.
There is a touching back story to Anu’s father’s much ridiculed toilet manufacturing business (no pun intended)! There is also a brief but effective sidebar that speaks about the struggles of aspiring filmmakers. And again, all these threads never intrude into the flow of the narrative and only add to the depth of the tale.
Enough credit cannot be showered on Ashok Selvan for a charismatic and charming performance, that has set a really high bar. I have always felt that Ashok is one of the most enigmatic actors we have in the Tamil industry and with this film, he has surely arrived as a star.
Not least for great acting performances across the board, Oh My Kadavule will definitely rank as one of the top films of this year. With an inventive mix-match of genres, Ashwath Marimuthu has pulled a rabbit out of the hat on his debut.
This film proves that not just marriages, but also great films can get made in heaven!
Shrikanth is a Chartered Accountant, who keenly follows and writes about cinema when he is not crunching numbers or balancing ledgers! You can find more of his work at Non Linear Plot
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