Vunnadi Okkate Zindagi movie review: This Ram Potheneni-starrer has a lot to teach its viewers
Vunnadi Okkate Zindagi (VOZ), which translates to ‘There’s Only One Life’, has a lot to ‘teach’ its viewers.
We are taught that a childhood friend is a friend for life. We are taught that you cannot break the bro-code of your gang, even if one of them has a bae. We are taught that even if your friend is upset with you, it’s your duty to not give up and win over his heart through your persistence because that’s what friends do best. We are taught a lot of things like these, and at some level, it feels like an exercise to be honest.
And just like a good work out, you also sense a feeling that watching Vunnadi Okkate Zindagi is good for your health, but it takes a lot of hard work to reach the end. The film often toys around with banal ideas that are reinforced again and again by its chief, aka writer-director Kishore Tirumala, under the guise of a trip down the memory lane.
But first let me put this straight - VOZ is not a bad film. It’s just that it’s story would have seemed more relevant in another time and age. It narrates the story of two friends - Abhi (Ram) and Vasu (Sree Vishnu) who become friends at a young age. They stick together through thick and thin; however, it all changes when Abhi meets Maha (Anupama Parameshwaran), a house surgeon. Abhi gives Maha wings to dream beyond her existing life; however, when he’s forced to choose between his love life and friendship, Abhi does the ‘right’ thing. The rest of the story is about how Abhi and Vasu, and their friends, figure out that there’s one life and that friendship is best ship to sail in the world.
It doesn't take too long, after the film starts, to wonder if good intentions alone are enough to make a good drama? After all, if there’s a competition to make a film in this category, Vunnadi Okkate Zindagi will be in the race with the likes of Venkatesh’s Sankranthi and Nava Vasantham.
There’s not a single shred of negativity in Vunnadi Okkate Zindagi, and almost every character is packed with so much goodness and sincerity that you might as well be hit by a giant ball of sugar after meeting them in real life.
This, however, isn’t to say that such characters don’t exist in real life, but the overwhelming emphasis on their ‘good and kind’ side takes away the very essence of conflict between the characters. The only thing that stands out is the sense of sacrifice, not even ego. And when you combine it with the theme music of the film, it serves as a constant reminder that it’ll become too banal and unbearable at some point.
Kishore Tirumala is a writer and he makes it so obvious that I kept wondering if his pen is attached to a Duracell battery, because the writing lasts longer, much longer. The entire film is so verbose that the conversations start to make you feel all dazed. The gyaan sessions between the characters are like Rumi’s quotes which end with a, you guessed it right, the theme music with lyrics like - Trend marina, friend maradu (even if the trend changes, your friend doesn’t.) Kishore Tirumala, for all the goodness that he manages to pack into the script, focuses more on the writing that the experience feels like reading a book rather than watching a film.
But it does get a lot of things right and it’s even more true in terms of the bromance which Ram and Sree Vishnu share throughout the film. Both the actors are at their sincere best and they are quite convincing in convincing us that they were convinced that Kishore was making this film with absolute conviction.
Because - “Trend Marina Friend Maaradu”. Anupama Parameshwaran is a revelation in the film and it’s quite a task to make a character feel like she was trapped between two lines in a ruler notebook, where the line-spacing is like 10 inches because they had to leave out enough space to accommodate her jhumkas! She’s really good in her role and makes you believe in her budding feelings for a guy who dreams big. Lavanya Tripathi, who plays a wedding planner named Maggie, does a decent job in her limited role.
The film’s runtime is nearly 2 hours 35 minutes, and it feels like an achievement that Kishore envisioned such a dense story, which is more like an essay on ‘A Friend Is Forever’, that would deal with familiar tropes and pack plenty of wisdom. It might be tiresome, but not futile. Maybe we need to be reminded that it’s okay to make that call to that friend with whom you haven’t spoken in a long time.
That’s all folks!