Yogaraj Bhat’s 2006 Mungaru Male was a big hit so it’s not too surprising that the story has been revisited in this 2016 reboot written and directed by Shashank. However, although there is a Preetham and a Nandini, a pre-arranged marriage to disrupt and plenty of rain, Shashank doesn’t quite manage to recapture the magic of the first film. It’s a reasonable enough romance but nowhere near as engaging as the original, and with an unlikeable hero in the first half and a ridiculously over-dramatic and improbable climax it’s newcomer Neha Shetty and the beauty of Rajasthan and Karnataka that make the biggest impressions.
Preetham (Ganesh) is the immature and brattish son of multi-millionaire businessman V. Ravichandran, whose major problem in life is that he is easily bored. The film starts with some dodgy CGI of a helicopter as Preetham pulls out all the stops to impress Shreya (Aindrita Ray), the current object of his desire. However before long Preetham has had enough of his new relationship and unceremoniously dumps Shreya using incredibly juvenile dialogue, while Shreya reacts unrealistically well to being told she is too dull for the spoilt rich kid. Preetham’s childish behaviour continues (although I suspect he’s supposed to look spontaneous and hip), as he runs off on a train trip to Rajasthan. On the train he meets Nandini (Neha Shetty) and the two abandon the tour to experience the colour and vibrancy of Rajasthan by themselves as temporary girlfriend and boyfriend.
This part of the film works as a standard romance, apart from the frequently childish behaviour from Preetham. Nandini also has a tendency to be obnoxious at times, although to a lesser extent, and at least she is never as deliberately cruel as Preetham. Perhaps unthinkingly selfish is the best description as it’s Nandini who decides where to go and what to do. Thankfully Shekar Chandra makes the most of the stunning landscapes and colourful locals, so at least the film looks amazing in these scenes.
Post interval the action moves to rain-drenched Karnataka as Preetham discovers that he has fallen in love with Nandini and finally decides to try and find her. This he does, just in time to learn that she is engaged to a US based doctor who is planning to move back to India and open a charity hospital built by Nandini’s father P. Ravi Shankar. How’s that for perfect matchmaking! To add more drama, there is a family connection behind the marriage which supposedly makes it even more imperative that the marriage goes ahead, but which seemed to me to be more of a good reason why the whole thing should be called off. Sadhu Kokila adds some humour to the proceedings while V. Ravichandran is good as Preetham’s concerned father.
Shankar tries to add a new twist to the Mungaru Male storyline here and to be fair it works reasonably well up to a point. Ganesh’s Preetham becomes more likeable once he falls in love with Nandini and the two have some better chemistry together in the second half. The songs are also more appropriately placed and generally well visualised while the stunning waterfalls and beautiful scenery in Karnataka add to the romantic atmosphere. In fact it doesn’t go too pear-shaped until the last 20 minutes when the slow but sweet romance suddenly switches to a crazy action sequence and completely ridiculous ending. There are even matching head bandages and bloodstains for the lead pair as they career around a hospital trying to find each other. It’s so silly that it becomes hilarious, although I suspect that it’s meant to be dramatic and tense instead.
There are a few franchises where sequels have worked well, but more usually they fail to live up to the original, and such is the case here. The best parts of the film are undoubtedly the songs by Arjun Janya and the beautiful cinematography from Shekar Chandra, but that’s not enough to save the film. Ganesh tries hard, but his character is too spoilt and brattish in the first half to allow any empathy for Preetham later on. Neha Shetty is good and does well with this more modern and independent Nandini, although she loses much of her spark once she admits her love for Preetham. Just for once I’d like to see the heroine not become a wet blanket once she falls in love! Sadly Mungaru Male 2 just doesn’t live up to expectations and is probably one for the fans. Or wait to watch on DVD when you can skip forward past Preetham’s bratty behaviour and enjoy the travels through Rajasthan and Karnataka instead.