Some would call Oh My Friend ahead of its time. Such is its conviction in the message it tries to convey. Some others would call it a load of crap. Such is its naivete about certain basic facts of life.
Since it is a Dil Raju production, Oh My Friend is certainly a well-organized ride. The problem with the film is the destination it takes you to. If you haven't watched the movie and would rather not know the plot, read no further, because we're going to crib about the climax a lot in this review.
So Oh My Friend. Chandu (Siddharth) and Siri (Shruti Haasan) have been chaddi buddies since even before dinosaurs were smoked out of the face of this earth. And they intend to keep it that way.
Siri supports Chandu during his times of need, especially during journey into a career of music, an ambition that his father (Tanikella Bharani) is not excited about in the least. Meanwhile, Chandu and Siri each have love lives. Chandu depends on Siri to woo his girlfriend, and Siri asks Chandu whether he's okay with her fiancee.
And in typical filmi style, they hysterically laugh whenever someone so much as suggests that they might be, you know, lovers.
The film takes predictable turns, and most of us can see through the obvious relationship disaster unfolding on the screen. However, until the interval, it successfully woos the young ones in the audience, using Siddharth in all the right ways to charm the college crowd. The second half then degrades into a saga of tension and conversations you'd rather avoid.
To the director's credit, the interplay between characters, and the promise of a rosy ending (even if at the cost of two other wonderful people - the other halves of these confused best friends) keeps you hooked. Also, the beautiful father-son sub-plot deserves a 10, not least because of Tanikella Bharani's brilliance. The Chandu-Ritu love story is suitably cute. Some moments and dialogues in the movie are borrowed from films like Dil Chahta Hai
and Rock On
Plus, you tell yourself (especially if you've been in campus yourself about 5-10 years ago), every generation deserves to have its own Nuvve Kaavaali.
Until a stage comes in the story, from where you can see clearly - this is no Nuvve Kaavaali.
You see, the film's message is this: a man and a woman can be "purely" friends; fiances and spouses who have a problem with that may well go to hell or be accused of villains separating friends. A sensitive point, and a realistic way of looking at things in today's world, but too multi-layered an issue to be captured in a movie.
It sets you thinking - isn't this kind of an ending a serious violation of your expectations as a member of the audience? Didn't you come to watch a romance? The premise is suggestive of a romance, and the story leads to a romantically happy ending, and suddenly they tell you it's wrong to even think of them as a romantic couple. It's not just disappointing - it's almost like incest in reverse.
Whatever happened to all that "love with no expectations" when Siri started having issues with Chandu dating someone? What is wrong with Siri's fiancee telling her to tone it down a bit?
Fortunately, everyone in the cast puts in a restrained, composed performance. Siddharth is no crowd-puller, but his fan base - college girls - is intact. In Oh My Friend, he continues his Bommarillu
persona, which works out pretty well for him. Shruti Haasan is good, and deserves the lead role. However, her character's Telangana slang sounds forced.
Hansika is sweet as Ritu, Chandu's girlfriend, exuding warmth. Both the women have disastrous dubbing. Sadly, Navdeep is confined to a role in which he only has to smile or fume.
Aesthetically pleasing visuals and the splendid music lend this film a rich campus flavour. The colours are vibrant, and touches like Shruti Haasan being deliberately dressed only in blue and Hansika in pink speak of the intention to make this a well-packaged, youthful product.
If you're in college, or if having a "best-est friend" from the opposite sex hasn't messed with your life as yet, be our guest and watch the movie. The rest of us would rather go back to our Nuvve Kaavaalis and KKHHs.