Hippi movie review: Karthikeya's pointless romantic drama is like his t-shirts — hip but awkward
It’s pointless to look for a point in Hippi.
Few minutes after watching Hippi, one can’t help but wonder what TN Krishna, director and writer of the film, was thinking when the central idea behind the film hit him. Sure, it fits into the space that has been created by Hindi films like Pyaar Ka Punchnama, but how does one explain how lame the whole film is. But these thoughts pale in comparison when you think about how the film is staged, how the characters are explored, and what the director wanted to say through the film. It starts off as a quirky romantic drama, but ends as a joke, on us. The lead character’s original name is Devadas, but people call him Hippi. But why Hippi? Maybe it’s because of his long hair or how his shirts never seem to fit his torso. In a way, the story and the narrative of Hippi are like the shirts that the lead character flaunts - they are hip, but never fit properly.
This is the story of a young man, Deva aka Devadas aka Hippi (played by Karthikeya), who’s frustrated that his life hasn’t been the same ever since he got into a relationship. To make things simpler for us, TN Krishna divides the love story into three stages - 1) Paradise Begins 2) Paradise Lost 3) Paradise Regained. He theorises that the first stage is when a boy falls in love with a girl and the second stage begins when the girl reciprocates his feelings. I’m not making this up! Perhaps, the protagonist never really deserved to be loved if he cared so much about his paradise, but to drive home his point, TN Krishna turns the female protagonist, Amuktamalyada aka Amu (Digangana Suryavanshi) into a stubborn and obnoxious woman who is too ‘demanding’ in the relationship. The rest of the story is about how Deva and Amuktamalyada navigate their troubled relationship and come to terms with who they are.
It’s pointless to look for a point in Hippi. After all, how does one make peace with a film which tosses up a bunch of d*ck jokes, just for ‘fun’. In the beginning of the film, Amuktamalyada (Amu) plays a prank on Hippi and tells him that he’s going to suffer an erectile dysfunction soon. He gets so scared at the prospect of losing his ‘manhood’ that he rushes to a hospital to get treated. His agony doesn’t end there. Hippi must teach her a lesson and looks for a way to end his relationship with Amu. But we are told that Amu is a smart young woman, who is always one step ahead of Hippi’s plans. She always has the last laugh. At this point, you don’t even know whom to root for because the treatment of the film and how it’s narrated is that bad and poorly written.
This is a film which normalises sexual harassment at the workplace so much that all the women, who work along with Hippi, are turned into nymphs who can’t get enough of their boss (played by JD Chakravarthy). Sample this: A colleague expresses his frustration of not being able to work properly in the office, and so the boss instructs a woman to ‘cool’ him down. In another scene, he boasts about his sexual prowess so much that his secretary falls for him without any questions. These are moments in the film which make you wonder which world do the characters live in, and whether anyone from the writing team ever worked in an office ever.
Karthikeya, who shot to fame with RX100 where he played a jilted lover, behaves as if there is an army of red ants crawling all over his body at all times. It’s just too much ‘Hippi-ness’ to take in at one go, but things do get better when he’s sober and focused on what he wants in life. Maybe, this is why he’s so comfortable when he shows off his abs and walks semi-naked at every given opportunity. I can’t remember the last time a Telugu film treated the prospect of its lead hero taking his shirt off as a ‘bang’ moment. If you even have the slightest idea that TN Krishna was trying to turn the tables and objectify the male protagonist, then allow me to set those notions on fire and tell you that it’s too lame to even think about it on those lines. The actor still has miles to go when it comes to emoting in any given scene, but he does dance and fight well. Digangana Suryavanshi, the lead actress, is good in her role and she might be the only one who took her role far too seriously in the film. Right from her introduction scene to the climax, she’s consistently good in terms of her body language and her attitude that the role required. But in the end, the nuances of her characterisation play a major spoilsport for all the work that she’s done.
Throughout the film, TN Krishna reminds us that John Milton, an English Poet, told the world about three stages of a relationship through his works - 1) Paradise Begins 2) Paradise Lost 3) Paradise Regained. For the record, John Milton never wrote a poem or a book about ‘Paradise Begins’, and the remaining two books delved into biblical stories and themes. There’s nothing biblical about Hippi.
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