In Maruthi’s Mahanubhavudu, there is a scene early in the film where Anand (Sharwanand) is dismayed that his colleague did not wash his hands after going to the restroom. He freaks out, and quite rightfully so. And in that state, he gets so irritated that he actually lands a punch on his colleague.
We are told that Anand’s OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) for cleanliness often puts him in a tight spot, especially when he’s outside his house. However, in most situations, Anand always ensures that he takes the necessary precautions. As a result, he carries lots of sanitizers, flasks, air purifiers and sprays among other things in his car because he cares about the air he breathes to the bowl he touches. He expects everything to be clean. It’s a simple premise, but in the hands of Maruthi, who is supported by a good star cast, Mahanubhavudu turns into a laugh riot as it unfolds.
In the past, Maruthi has made Bhale Bhale Magadivoy, where the lead character loses track of his train of thoughts whenever he gets distracted. And this trait in his personality drives the whole narrative of the film. Mahanubhavudu too falls in the same category and Maruthi’s story this time treads on familiar tropes. However, its success lies in how well it blends a character’s trait into a mainstream family drama.
We begin to understand that because of his OCD for cleanliness and hygiene, Anand has never felt the touch of anyone who cares about him. He is the kind of person who would not let his mother feed him if she is not well. He cares more about hygiene than love. A character with a trait like this could easily turn into a caricature, and Mahanubhavudu dances on the edge quite a few times; but thanks to Sharwanand and Maruthi, the narrative always remains in the safe zone.
The film is also about how far a youngster pushes himself to win his love back. Sounds familiar? Because it is.
Despite its familiar themes, the consistency in Anand’s characterisation and how effortlessly Sharwanand pulls off the role makes a whole lot of difference. Take that scene where Sharwanand has a meltdown when he spots a young boy approaching the pond, or even the scene where he almost barfs when he sees others eat with hand. His mind constantly juggles between apathy and helplessness but when Anand finally realises that love triumphs everything - even cleanliness - his life comes a full circle.
Sharwanand’s earnestness in everything he does makes him look even more convincing. After Krishna Gaadi Veera Prema Gaadha, Mehreen makes quite an impression yet again in this film. Initially, you are left with a feeling that perhaps her role is underwritten. We don’t get a sneak peek into her mind. However, the more she talks, the more you understand her vulnerability, and love towards her family. Nasser and Vennela Kishore too deliver solid performances.
The second half, in particular, packs a whole bunch of stuff which makes Mahanubavudu a joy to watch. In one scene, when Anand realises that his OCD will once again land him in trouble; he almost cries to himself and mumbles, “Malli kotha concept aa? Time kooda ivvatam ledhu. (Another new concept? They aren’t even giving me time to recover).” This situation has the undertones of a man who feels trapped in every sense, and it is handled in quite a funny manner. You even forget the fact that Maruthi connects all the dots quite convincingly to make a wholesome entertainer. In an attempt to heal someone just by his mere presence, Anand finds the courage to heal himself and understand what it means to be loved. The message is subtle but you cannot miss it.
The transformation of Maruthi - from banking heavily on dialogues laced with double entendres to a director who delivers clean family entertainers - has already been well-documented; and Mahanubhavudu is yet another feather in his cap which shows how humour comes to him so naturally. There isn’t a single odd scene in the film. Yes, it takes its time to get the rhythm right, but at no point does Maruthi digress too much from what he wants to say. This is what makes the film such a fun ride. It has its heart in the right place and it is bang for the buck right till the end. Two big thumbs up for the film.
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