CommitMental review: Permanent Roommates' Telugu remake is too tedious to engage viewers

Despite moments of genuine humour in CommitMental, we never get enough reasons to feel invested in the leads' romance or their challenges.

Hemanth Kumar November 14, 2020 10:31:39 IST
CommitMental review: Permanent Roommates' Telugu remake is too tedious to engage viewers

Language: Telugu

In the opening scene of CommitMental, Phani (Udbhav) lands in India from the US, and moments later, he proposes to his girlfriend Anu (Punarnavi). Although the duo have been in a long-distance relationship for three years, Anu isn’t sure if she wants to marry him, and Phani is confused about what Anu wants from their relationship. “You shouldn’t think so much to get married” — he keeps telling her, but her confusion and dilemma is palpable. What follows next is a string of events which change both of them as people and also as a couple. As simple as this sounds, this five-episode series, which has been adapted from TVF’s popular series Permanent Roommates, is a letdown. And it has a lot to do with how the two characters, Phani and Anu are treated as individuals.

Directed by Pavan Sadineni, CommitMental oscillates between plain annoying and soulful moments where the characters grapple with pain and loss. The series straddles two worlds, where the characters behave in a certain way, although they want something else in their lives. This trait is consistent throughout the narrative, and quite rarely is there an overlap. The guy is a blabbermouth and it’s a miracle that almost everyone in his life tolerates him. Even Anu’s father remarks, “Koncham nasa gadu, kaani manchodu (He talks too much, but he’s a nice guy)”. On the other hand, Anu is more pragmatic and wants to take time before making up her mind. At one point, she even begs him to stop talking because she can’t breathe. But then, she also wants him in his life because, for all his faults, he’s still a nice guy.

CommitMental review Permanent Roommates Telugu remake is too tedious to engage viewers

A still from Commitmental. YouTube screengrab

Not surprisingly, the series works best when music fills the gap between conversations. It’s soothing when Anu is lost in her thoughts about what’s going to happen next, and to its credit, a tad emotional too when the theme music, composed by Anand Sudeep Raj, plays out. Moments like these are like a breath of fresh air in a conversational drama that can’t decide for itself when to stop or at least, hold back. Punarnavi Bhupalam does a good job in her role as Anu, who’s confused about whether she wants Phani in her life or not. And Udbhav fits the role perfectly and his non-stop chatter really gets on to your nerves, which probably was his character brief too.

The good part about Pavan Sadineni and writer Kasyap Sreenivas’s approach to narrating this story is their ability to find humour effortlessly. And it predominantly comes in the form of hilarious conversations between a house broker (referred to as Ghar Ghar), Lakshman (who refers to himself as Leo) and Phani-Anu. Even if the humour doesn’t add up always, it does come as a respite. These conversations feel like patches of green grass in the drama which doesn’t make it easy for us to fall in love with it instantly, despite the premise.

All this makes you wonder if Phani and Anu are treated as adults at all. He’s 30 and she’s 24. Yet, they make you believe that they are 16 and 14. The idea of a relationship between a man-child and a young woman who has to make peace with him doesn’t quite translate well on screen in this context. Phani never forgets to remind Anu that he left everything behind in the US to be with her, and he comes with a sense of entitlement. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really change by the time the end credits roll. The man-child doesn’t quite grow up and the way the storytelling engages with us doesn’t change either. We don’t get enough reasons to feel invested in Phani and Anu’s love story. That’s the problem with CommitMental. It doesn’t allow itself to breathe and give us something to think about or cherish, even for a moment.

Rating: **1/2

CommitMental is currently streaming on AHA!

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