Manmadhudu 2 movie review: Nagarjuna, Rakul Preet's film doesn't tap into its potentially rich emotional aspect
Nagarjuna and Rakul Preet-starrer Manmadhudu 2 is about a middle-aged man and his uneasy relationship with his family, where everyone tries to coax him into getting married. Directed by Rahul Ravindran, the film, a remake of a 2006 French film Prête-moi ta main (I Do), is set in Porto, a city in Portugal, where an entire locality, Cassandra, is inhabited with hundreds of immigrant families from Andhra Pradesh. There’s a backstory which tries to justify the presence of Telugu-speaking populace in Portugal, but in the larger scheme of things, it’s a needless addition to the film which is already quite lost. It tries hard to be a breezy entertainer but ends up being a bland film where nothing sticks out except for some witty one-liners.
The film follows the journey of Sam (Nagarjuna), a perfumer with a major OCD, who has a fallout with his family after they reject his girlfriend. He ends up living separately and refuses to get married. Years later, Sam, who believes in one-night stands than love, is forced by his mother to get married within three months. She is afraid that he might end up being lonely after she passes away, and so she and Sam’s sisters want to pass on the mantle to his future wife. To get out of the tricky situation, Sam ends up hiring a waitress Avantika (Rakul Preet) to pose as his girlfriend. It is a win-win situation for both of them. However, things take a dramatic turn when Sam’s family falls in love with Avantika.
One of the main reasons why Manmadhudu 2 ends up being a disappointment is the lack of a strong emotional thread. We are told that Sam hates the idea of marriage after his heartbreak, but the reason behind it is silly at best. He has a love-hate relationship with his sisters, but we do not quite see how much he means to his sisters and his mother. She says that she is afraid that he does not know what he is losing, but Sam does not acknowledge anything, including his feelings for anything or anyone.
It would not be wrong to say that much like Sam, the film too is afraid to dig deep into its emotional side. As a result, the weight of the film rests on everything else it tries to do, right from trying to fit its characters in a foreign country to making every move of Sam and Avantika acceptable. Even the idea of making the principal characters speak in pure Telugu gets tiresome because at every stage, we are forced to see what they are doing or how they are talking. The smattering of Portuguese is another such example. It might seem natural on paper but on screen, it comes across as a misfit because it is so hard to buy into the idea that this is the story of a Telugu family living in Portugal for three generations.
Thankfully, Vennela Kishore comes to the rescue and manages to hold the film together to an extent. His witty one-liners, coupled with his comic timing, make a solid impression. Rao Ramesh too makes his presence felt and the subplot about his obsession with attar is well-written. Lakshmi proves yet again why you cannot ignore her when she is in the frame. Her tears in a couple of scenes pack in more emotion than the rest of the film manages to pull off. This is a film which rests more on the shoulders of its lead actors, Nagarjuna and Rakul. There are moments where you feel the pain and burden the two characters, Sam and Avantika, carry in their hearts. But what the film lacks is a soul which would make you root for the characters. Avantika, in fact, has a strong backstory, but we do not get to see or hear about it enough. So we lose the context behind her persona, desperation to make money, and the eventual transformation in the end. For all the uber-cool stuff that is attributed to Sam in the beginning, he becomes a passive character as the film unfolds. Even his change of heart towards the end lacks depth.
This could have been a meaningful drama about toxic relationships, but Rahul Ravindran does not quite dig deep into that aspect of the film. This could also have been a film about a man who is afraid of breakups because that seems more unbearable than being lonely, but we do not see enough of that. This could have been about a family trying to make Sam understand the meaning of happiness and companionship, but all we get to see is a bunch of them trying all sorts of things to convince Sam, except for pouring their hearts out to him directly. Manmadhudu 2 could have been so much more than what it is but it ends up nowhere.
Updated Date: Aug 09, 2019 15:01:01 IST