Kobbari Matta movie review: Sampoornesh Babu's spoof of family dramas is a laugh riot
Kobbari Matta is not only consistently absurd and over the top, but also, it’s an excuse to laugh at ourselves and the cliches prevalent in Telugu cinema.
In 2014, Sampoornesh Babu’s breakthrough film, Hrudaya Kaleyam, wrote a new chapter in Telugu cinema’s long history of spoofing pop culture. Who can forget the heart-transplant sequence? If you haven’t seen it, then you have no clue why Sampoornesh (aka Sampoo) is in a league of his own.
It wasn’t the first time that someone took a dig at the over-the-top drama and sentimental scenes, but Hrudaya Kaleyam took it to a whole new level by pitching a newcomer Sampoornesh Babu as a man of the masses. His ability to deliver even the most ludicrous dialogues with a poker face is remarkable and he makes you believe that he’s a comedian who is clueless about what he’s doing. But, once you look closely at what he does, you realise that he gives you an excuse to laugh at yourself. This happens because everything that he does, even when it isn’t funny, is hyperbolic. He isn’t a comedian, he’s an actor who blurs the difference between comedy and caricature.
In his latest film, Kobbari Matta, Sampoornesh Babu is back to doing what he does best - making you laugh at the absurdities of Telugu cinema. And there’s plenty to make fun of. Take for instance, a scene where his wife is about to die. By then, Sampoo is so poor that he can’t afford a vehicle to take his wife to the hospital, and so, he places her on a kobbari matta (coconut branch) and drags it down the road. But she stops him and asks him to sing a song because she might die at any moment. Sampoo begins to sing a heart wrenching song, but she insists that she wants to listen to a fast-beat song. And then, the film cuts to an item number where Sampoo and his wives shake a leg to thumping dance number where the lyrics are nothing but letters from Telugu alphabet. It’s a parody of a quintessential masala film in Telugu where an item song is mandatory before the climax, irrespective of the mood or emotion till that point of time.
In another scene, Sampoo does his own version of thandavam (dance) to appease the rain gods and save lives of few people in his drought-stricken village, but before it begins to rain, Sampoo drenches a cloth with his own sweat and gives a new lease of life to the villagers. And the climax is also an astonishing sequence where a dead man rises from his grave because he still remembers the promise that he made to his son. In terms of how the film’s story is structured, Kobbari Matta is a spoof of a popular Telugu film, Pedarayudu (1995), but you could also say that the film is a spoof of family dramas in general. This is a film where Paparayudu, Pedarayudu, and Andriodu - the three roles essayed by Sampoornesh Babu - stand by their words. Paparayudu makes his son, Pedarayudu promise him that he’ll take care of his brothers and sisters like his own kids; Pedarayudu marries three women, with their consent, and is righteous; and Androidu, the youngest of them all, vows to bring down Pedarayudu’s supremacy in the village. Kobbari Matta is as crazy as it sounds, and yet, you buy into the idea because it never takes itself too seriously.
At the centre of all this is Sampoornesh Babu himself who wraps the idea behind Kobbari Matta with his innocence and immerses himself completely to do what the character demands. In one scene, he gets so mad at his brother that in a fit of rage, he trashes everyone around him, including the film’s cinematographer and director. It’s loaded with plenty of double entendres and the characters live in a realm of their own, but then the world of Kobbari Matta, where the entire village abides by whatever Pedarayudu decides, is absurd. Rupak Ronaldson, the director, lets the characters spew their over the top lines with utmost sincerity.
The biggest surprise in the film is that it’s not an assortment of memes. It does have a structure and a story to tell, and the credit for that goes to writer Sai Rajesh. The film belongs to Sampoornesh as much as it does to Sai Rajesh, who wrote the story and dialogues. At a run time of around two hours, Kobbari Matta packs in plenty of laugh out loud moments. And in doing so, it makes a strong case for the resurgence of spoofing pop culture.
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