Ami Thumi movie review: Vennela Kishore packs a punch in Mohan Krishna Indraganti’s film
Director: Mohan Krishna Indraganti
Telugu cinema’s fascination for comedy and satire is an age-old phenomenon. The writers and filmmakers of the yore had a knack to make you laugh at the drop of a hat and thankfully, there was never a dearth of great comedians, right from the days of Relangi to Brahmanandam. Right now, it’s the age of Vennela Kishore.
In less than a decade, Vennela Kishore has risen above the cliches of being a hero’s best friend to playing characters so central to the narrative that it’s hard to imagine what the film could have been without him. And once again, his presence in Mohan Krishna Indraganti’s Ami Thumi proves why he’s so damn good at his job.
But first, let’s also take a moment to understand why Ami Thumi comes like a breath of fresh air in the Telugu comedy scene, just when the influence of Jabardasth syndrome, inflicted by the popular comedy show Jabardasth, is felt in almost every film in theatres today. The jokes under this influence range from infidelity to battle of sexes where the man turns the very existence of women into a joke.
Despite its outlandishness, the Jabardasth syndrome has become the gold standard of comedy, but then it’s become a cliche. Amidst all this, just like Tharun Bhascker’s Pellichoopulu did in 2016, Ami Thumi turns our attention to a different scenario, where the plight of the characters and the writing is more than enough to induce laughter.
There are no jokes in Ami Thumi - it’s true. There’s Janardhan, played by Thanikella Bharani, who wants to get his daughter Deepika (Eesha) married to a guy from a rich family, instead of Ananth (Adivi Sesh), whom Deepika loves. Deepika’s brother Vijay (Srinivas Avasarala) is in love with Maya (Aditi), the daughter of Giridhar, an arch-rival of Janardhan. While the two couples try to figure out how to convince their respective parents, the arrival of Sri Chilipi (Vennela Kishore) changes everything.
Among all these characters, you could argue that Janardhan is the only one who’s little over-the-top in his mannerisms. He doesn’t hesitate to dance when he’s happy, or sing when he can see his rival facing trouble. Other than him, every other character is pretty serious about what they want or do. Despite all this Ami Thumi is one of the funniest films in recent times, and a large part of that credit goes to some impeccable writing by Mohan Krishna Indraganti himself.
In terms of its theme and narrative, we find traces of Indraganti’s own film Ashta Chamma, particularly in terms of how a simple change of a name can lead to a dramatic turn of events. And Mohan Krishna Indraganti milks this trope extremely well in his satirical take on greed. That’s what the film is all about. It’s a socio-cultural commentary on how greed takes centre-stage in our lives, especially when it comes to weddings, and forces the other characters to fight back to prove that love triumphs all in the end.
Inspired from Richard Brinsley Sheridan's play, The Duenna, Ami Thumi has a very different tone to it right from the onset.
Eesha nails the Telangana accent and her conversations with Thanikella Bharani, who’s in top form, are a scream. Then, there’s Adivi Sesh and Srinivas Avasarala, whose banter, although short-lived, is fun to watch. On the sidelines of all this, Aditi’s reluctance to oppose her father adds fuel to the fire. But hold on…at the core of Ami Thumi, there’s Vennela Kishore whose turns the film into a laughter-therapy.
For instance, take that scene, where he meets Eesha and later Kumari, another central character in the film - Vennela Kishore elevates Indraganti’s writing into a performance that would have made his predecessors, in the long-list of comedy talent, proud. He may have playing quite a few characters, where he’s the prospective bridegroom, but nothing has prepared us to watch what happens when Vennela Kishore ends up meeting the girl who’s his gateway to being uber-rich. That’s all I’m saying.
Ami Thumi is a screwball comedy, there’s plenty of confusion and plenty of chasing around, but more than anything, it has a tone which has long been missing in Telugu cinema. Like Thanikella Bharani says, “Trivikram tharvatha vachinna 4vikram vi nuvuu”, Mohan Krishna Indraganti digs deep into the pastures of comedy and unearthed new layers of the genre to prove what all is possible when you look beyond ‘praasa and punch’.
Two big thumbs up for Ami Thumi. It’ll put a smile on your face and that’s a lot in times like the these. It’s also time for Vennela Kishore to change his name to ‘Chilipi’ Kishore. Because if he doesn’t do it, his new legion of fans might after watching Ami Thumi. Shakespeare might have said, “What’s in a name?”, it turns out that it makes a whole lot of difference!