Mr Majnu movie review: Akhil Akkineni, Nidhhi Agerwal’s romantic drama plays it too safe
Mr Majnu, however, finds its groove in key moments that rescue the film when it matters the most.
Akhil Akkineni and Nidhhi Agerwal-starrer Mr Majnu feels like watching Indian cricket team batting on a tricky pitch on the fifth day of a test match. At the outset, it looks like an easy run chase. However, the star batsman wants to play safe and stay there till the end because things have gone horribly wrong in the past. In the context of Mr Majnu, that star batsman is Akhil and it does feel like the entire team around him has gone out of their way to make him feel comfortable. The film is so cautious in its approach that it even turns the opposition team into minnows just to ensure that its lead character emerges victorious in the end. Taking a risk is out of question, and so what we are left with is some well-crafted sequences which allow the film to find its emotional core.
The film revolves around Vicky (Akhil), who is quite popular with the women in his college in the UK. One day, while on his way to India, he meets Nikki (Nidhhi) and tries to flirt with her. However, things do not start off on a good note between the two. Much later, Nikki, who gets to know Vicky’s true nature, falls in love with him. The rest of the story is about how Vicky handles the situation.
Right from the beginning, there is a nagging feeling that writer and director Venky Atluri, who made an impressive debut with Tholiprema in 2018, has tried to play it too safe this time. The stakes in the love story are low, and at no point do we feel an yearning that is essential for a love story. The only empathy that you feel is for Nikky, who is visibly left heartbroken. It is her emotion that drives most part of the first half of the narrative, and some of the sequences between the two characters strike a chord. However, the moment the narrative shifts to Vicky’s perspective, the film too gets increasingly repetitive. There is a major sense of deja vu as the story unfolds, and on the whole, Mr Majnu does not quite feel interesting enough for you to root for the characters. Even Nikki’s characterisation becomes dormant after a point, because the entire attention is turned to allowing Vicky to find his ground.
Akhil, who played the lead role, is introduced as a playboy right from the word go. Women fall in love with him instantly and all it takes for him is a ‘wink’. That is probably the only character brief we have about him for almost the entire first act of the film. Venky Atluri takes a tad too long to establish the fact that Vicky loves his family and wants to walk on his father’s footsteps, and respects his uncle even when he keeps reprimanding Vicky for not focusing on his studies. Some of the best sequences in the film, which actually stir some emotion, focus on Akhil’s family. One such scene revolves around how he stands up for his family when his uncle ends up in big trouble, and in another instance, Akhil is caught red-handed by the entire family about what is happening in his love life. Despite such good moments, the chase till the end, so to speak, is reduced to singles in the second half, and there is barely a stroke that makes you jump with joy.
Mr Majnu is a product of design and its underlying emotion does not feel organic enough, even when Venky shifts the perspective of its lead characters. Full credit to George C Williams, cinematographer, for turning the film into a beautiful portrait, frame after frame, and the only magic in the film happens when it is set in the magic hour of the day. Thaman’s music has a heavy hangover of his tunes from the past. However, they do gel well with the storyline.
You would have seen a film like Mr Majnu, or something similar, in the past. The question here is not whether how different is it compared to other films in the genre. That is hardly the objective of the film because it tells you the same story all over again. Here, it asks a simple question — What does it mean to be in love? In Mr Majnu, the lead character realises that it is all about loving someone the way they want to be loved, even if it means having to change yourself. And more importantly, love means having to lie because you do not want to hurt anyone. The film, more or less, follows the same moral — It does not hurt anyone because it believes in a classic sports adage — "The best defense is a good offense”.
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