The Kannada film industry (Kollywood?) has come in for a lot of flak lately for not doing its bit to fight piracy. The opinion of the other Southern film industries seems to be that if you're not with us, you're against us. Monalisa is proof that they're definitely against us.
Why else would Kollywood - unlike its Southern counterparts, for e.g. Tollywood and Mollywood - unleash such a torrid blast of ham and spam at us? What really hurts is the assumption that we can't produce equally nauseating tripe in our own state. And did they really think we'd sit through almost three hours of chronic melodrama just to catch the occasional glimpse of jiggling bosom or wobbling navel? The only reason we even ventured into the cinema hall was because we were attracted by the unique concept of a hero on skates. We happen to be a very sports-minded people.
Mona Lisa has plenty of action of the humorous and non-humorous sort, and the first category includes stunts on roller-skates. Talk about overshooting. Dhyaan is an unremarkable graduate with one ambition in life - to marry a girl who is dumber than him and has smaller biceps. But such a combination is rare to find in a homo sapiens. Still, Dhyaan believes it will happen for him someday and his faith is rewarded when Mona Lisa walks into his life.
Mona and Dhyaan spend a night together in his father's shopping mall, where they discover that they cannot live without seeing each other's face. This can be a real problem when you need to use the loo, but our two lovers are undaunted. From such undying love is born one title song and several background dancers in alarming shades of red.
Unfortunately their love is not to be, and Dhyaan's world comes crashing down when he hears that Mona was killed on her way to meet her father in America. His deep distress is conveyed through a series of scenes that can only be described as touching. In fact, as the hero pours his heart out to an unsuspecting camera, you feel like your nerves have been stretched from end to end and are being gently plucked by a blunt toothpick.
Sammir Dattani, as an angry-young-man, has this fabulous knack of looking like he's going to throw himself on the ground and thrash his limbs about, if you don't buy him that ice cream. And he's going to scream and scream till he's sick. And he hates you, hates you, hates you. So there.
Sadaf in her double-role as Mona Lisa and Dhyaan's lawfully pregnant wife Spandana later in the film, shows potential for better things than bathing her sick husband and clutching him tearfully to her afore-mentioned bosom. She has a keenness for the camera that might actually work for her if she tried something other than standing around and sobbing.
The dubbing of the film is botched and the bonus comedy track is stressful. Bramhanandam and Kovai Sarala play their part in a sequence that gets a shade less funny every time it's performed, and which is about as pleasurable as a lobotomy to begin with, so you do the math.
A quick body count toward the end of the film reveals: one confused hero, one coyly pregnant heroine, and her look-alike in skin-tight pants. Which one does Dhyaan love? Which one can make the greater sacrifice? Which one will get to take him home before his bedtime? Villains are speared, babies are delivered and hearts are won. Moral of the story: marriage can be arranged, but love cannot.
Monalisa was a super-duper-fruper hit in Karnataka. We say, let them keep the pirated CDs; it would be an act of kindness.