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Oh Baby Review

Oh Baby
T J Reddy /
Can watch again
Good for kids
Good for dates
Wait for OTT
The more things change, the more they stay the same.

From times immemorial, most of our stories have required good guys to win and bad guys to lose. Most of our stories have been required to offer us a rosier view of the world around us by making poetic/karmic justice a key plot device. We reuse these tropes and devices time and time again simply because they eventually lead to outcomes and morals we cherish.

Baby (Lakshmi) is no different from most of our protagonists. She is a misunderstood woman with a heart of gold and the mouth of a sailor who is in equal parts overbearing and kind. The change incorporated into this character archetype in B V Nandini Reddy's newest film is that our protagonist is a 70-year-old grandmother. Her presence looms large at her home and at her workplace, which soon smothers her daughter-in-law to a point where the latter has a stroke. Unable to cope with Baby's archaic ways, the family makes the tough call to keep her away from them.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

A heartbroken Baby rues her fate and curses the big man above. In a tearful monologue, she exposits that God consistently took everything she loved from her, and in a final act of consistency, took her family away from her as well. As a response to this outcry, God takes a few minutes off from his busy schedule and returns Baby's youth to her. Now, Baby (Samantha Akkineni) has a chance to right her wrongs and live the life she always wanted. Nobody puts Baby in a corner, indeed.

She goes about this in the most predictable way possible, but what make the difference are the film's Rajamundry-powered dialogues. There is a freshness associated with a woman speaking with that dialect, and it instantly separates her from the myriad of other interchangeable female protagonists we are treated to on a weekly basis. Baby is a combination of naivete and street-smarts, and the movie expertly blends her character traits with its screenplay.

Every other character is required to play a foil to Baby's manic energy, but their interactions with Baby are not limited to that alone. When the screenplay gives these characters an opportunity to supersede Baby, each of them has a few nuggets of wonderfully worded poignancy to offer to the audience and to each other. Specifically, the sage advice Rao Ramesh's Nani offers his son is almost worth the price of admission.

But as we said before, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

For all its sharp dialogue and funny set-pieces, Oh! Baby's script lacks a genuine sense of unpredictability. Any film-goer with a basic understanding of traditional narrative structure would be checking off plot points on this script 15 minutes before they wind up on the big screen. Add to this the massive dumps of exposition and convenience-riddled storytelling, and soon Oh! Baby's lack of ambition becomes all the more apparent.

The movie works only from the prism of the younger breed in the audience empathising with the old and not the other way around. Baby's youth does not result in her seeing the world through her daughter-in-law's and granddaughter's eyes. She goes around lecturing boys and girls about how they ought to behave instead of asking herself the question "Have I kept up with the times?", or more pertinently, "Are my children's and grandchildren's wishes all that different when compared to mine?".

These lapses in logic are far too common in our stories. The stories tend to dictate morals to us instead of employing us to draw our own conclusions. Did filmmakers the world over not get the memo from Eames in Inception? People need to feel like they came up with an idea. That is the only way it will stick with them.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

9 years since her debut, only Samantha's last name has changed - her likeability and talent remain at the same dizzying heights. She is as important to you connecting to Baby as a character as the writing and directing are. She helps you come to terms with the pricklier aspects of Baby's personality with her effervescent smile and pitch-perfect histrionics.

Speaking of histrionics, you cannot watch this film and not fall in love with Rajendra Prasad's delightful portrayal of Chanti (Baby's childhood friend). Samantha and Rajendra Prasad share a relationship and chemistry that is hard to duplicate and ignore. Their sub-plot acts as a conduit to Chanti's past (a clever way to circumvent a needless flashback), and the resolution their arc gets is a showcase of Nandini Reddy operating at the height of her powers.

Speaking of which, the movie is at its best when two people sit across a table and talk to each other. Nandini Reddy has a way of making an audience the proverbial fly on the wall. However, the film's more technical aspects are not without their flaws. In more than one instance, the movie dubs in lines even though the actors' lips are firmly shut, and complex shots are not all executed with the same élan every time. This results in a visual experience where a sense of dissonance is palpable.

Consequently, Baby's throughline is tasked with keeping the film from coming apart at its seams. The peppy soundtrack, retro-themed costumes and bright colours keep the story from running itself into the ground. However, with the movie failing to fire on all cylinders, the stronger parts don't pile onto each other to become a satisfying whole. That makes Oh! Baby enjoyable but not very memorable.

It is the very definition of most art. It is an imitation of an imitation of an imitation which reminds us of the morals and stories we know and love without ever challenging us to look beyond our comfort zones. However, the boy who played the young Indrasena Reddy is all grown-up now. He caught a sword by the blade during his days as a young whipper-snapper, and now Baby helps him achieve his goals. She (and anyone else who helps him) has our support.

The more things change, the more our love for that kid remains the same.
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Oh Baby (telugu) reviews
Rating is quick and easy - try it!
  • Cast
    Samantha Akkineni, Lakshmi, Naga Shaurya, Rajendra Prasad, Jagapathi Babu, Rao Ramesh, Teja Sajja, Pragathi, Urvashi
  • Music
    Mickey J Meyer
  • Director
    B V Nandini Reddy
  • Theatres
    Not screening currently in any theatres in Hyderabad.
Can watch again - Yes
Good for kids - Yes
Good for dates - Yes
Wait for OTT - No
Subramanyam on 14th Jul 2019, 12:50am | Permalink
Not a single mention of the original Korean movie, oh
Raghu M on 13th Jul 2019, 12:47am | Permalink
Kudos to the entire crew.
Hats off to Samantha, the actor.
Bow down to Nandini reddy, the director.
Although it's difficult to single out a performance (because every single character is so perfectly done), Samantha stands out with her outstanding performance (arguably, her best performance)
The Common Movie Goer on 10th Jul 2019, 1:57am | Permalink
TL;DR Those of you who haven't watched the movie, please try to watch it on the big screen. At the very least, you'll be left amused. At best, you'll have a jolly good time, laugh, empathize with Samantha, and maybe walk away with a message or two.


Saw this movie earlier today. Loved it to bits. I agree with everything positive you wrote about the movie but found your criticism of the movie extremely harsh, TJ!

I've always liked Nandini Reddy's movies. She has an extraordinary ability to get her audience to like her protagonists (Kalyana Vaibhogame, Ala Modalaindi, etc.) even if they're riddled with a ton of flaws and don't have any extraordinary talents. She knows what clicks and has amazing command over each of her characters, both primary and secondary. This movie is no different. Each character contributed to the film. The sum of the whole is definitely greater than the individual parts. Laxmi and Samantha were exceptional. The way Samantha managed to retain Laxmi's body language and still managed to bring in her own charming, infectious energy has to be seen on the screen to be believed. Rao Ramesh just gobbled up the opportunity to emote and show his range without going overboard. Amidst all these performances, Rajendra Prasad still managed to outdo everyone and gave a masterclass on how to feed off the other artistes. I don't think it would be a stretch to call this one of his finest performances. To have that much chemistry with someone he's played father to is a testament to how underrated he can sometimes be. I remember reading in the comments section of some movie recently which falsely stated that Tollywood doesn't have acting talent of high caliber. I sincerely hope he gets to watch this movie.

Coming back to your criticism of the movie, TJ, I felt the movie aptly and sufficiently answered whether Swathi / Savithi kept up with the times. There were a couple of instances where she wondered if she herself was overbearing. More importantly, the points in the story where she questions if her life is worth living all over again now that she has choices seemed to subtly indicate that the cycle of life is pretty much the same for everyone except for superficial cosmetic changes. In doing so, I felt the movie answered both this question and the other one about understanding the perspective of the young 'uns. Would love to hear your views on that.

In conclusion, I would suggest every movie lover to go watch this. I can guarantee you that you'll walk away mildly amused at the very least. Or, liked I did, you might walk away thoroughly entertained and captivated. The movie has virtually no weak performances, and has a great smattering of never-overdone spirituality, philosophy, and some ethical conundrums. As a well-versed and knowledgeable critic, TJ was probably right in handing this a 6.5 because of multiple technical issues and the music, but from a common movie-goer's perspective, this movie is near-perfect.

In the same vein, I would also suggest choosing this over Brochevarevarura. Brochevarevarura was actually an insipid affair and left me completely vexed. I thought Oh, Baby's climax was actually well done, with some genre-appropriate cinematic liberties taken to neatly wrap things up. Brochevarevarura's was mostly a dumpster fire. That is the epitome of convenient story-telling, with waaaaaay too many coincidences piling up on top of each other to the point it was frustrating and seemed ridiculous. Honestly, I have no idea why both of them are rated nearly identically on bookmyshow. I would rate Oh, Baby a solid 10, Agent around 6.5, and Brochevaru at 2. The only thing I liked was the Dorasani Thotalo song. The only reason I ended up watching Brochevaru were because of Vivek Sagar and Suresh Babu. Guess even Suresh Babu ends up opting for low-quality movies that can turn a profit sometimes.

Pros: Acting and packaging
Cons: Music and lip-sync
TJ Reddy on 13th Jul 2019, 1:43pm | Permalink
Hey! TCMG.

For me personally, the issue was the tone with which those situations were handled. As in, you feel the overbearing nature of Baby and the effect it has on her daughter-in-law. It is very palpable and we get a super sad scene when she is ousted from the house.

But her moments of growth are almost played for laughs and are too short to leave a mark. The scenes of Samantha lecturing people are still quite overblown and long. It is weirdly off in that way as the film may not have wanted to point too many fingers at its central character.

And I completely agree with you, Rajendra Prasad low-key steals the movie from under Samantha most of the time. Every few years he doles out a magnificent performance like this one reminding us of his talents.

And this is definitely feel-good film. It leaves one with a smile quite organically so I was very lenient with a lot of things. Not quite the calibre of Jersey but a family entertainer nonetheless.

Also, damn dude, I was so excited to watch Brochevarevaru Ra. I enjoyed Mental Madilo so much. Now I'm going to go in with super low expectations when it turns up on streaming.
Raghu M on 13th Jul 2019, 12:49am | Permalink
"The way Samantha managed to retain Laxmi's body language and still managed to bring in her own charming, infectious energy has to be seen on the screen to be believed." - Exactly, how I felt about her performance. Unbelievable!
Due respect to TJ, this movie deserves much higher than 6.5.
TJ Reddy on 13th Jul 2019, 1:47pm | Permalink
From an enjoyment perspective, it is a very satisfying film, Raghu. But the filmmaking and writing are not on par with the acting. I have to write about every aspect as objectively as possible so we reach this impasse.

I would love to review films with no numbers attached to them as it would encourage more discussion but that is an ideal world.
TFI lover on 8th Jul 2019, 11:00am | Permalink
What caught me by surprise is that a 70 year old grandmother is suddenly so fashionable and wears all kinds of outfits that may not always be conservative. And the plot line is extremely thin (was there even a climax). What carries the movie is definitely the actors and the dialogues (sametalu) that help them perform.
TJ Reddy on 8th Jul 2019, 12:42pm | Permalink
That caught me by surprise too until I realised that most of the outfit choices were from classic films and some of them were popularised by Lakshmi herself in Julie back in the day. I'd guess it's also a little bit of suspension of disbelief.

I agree with you that the climax is diabolical. If it weren't for the good actors, it would have fallen flat so very quickly.
V Setty on 7th Jul 2019, 9:44am | Permalink
Oh! Baby
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