What happens when you marry your best friend? Ashwath Marimuthu’s début film aims to answer that question in his fun romantic comedy Oh My Kadavule. While there are a few of the usual tropes associated with a love story, a road trip and a disapproving father among them, for the most part this is a fresh and interesting take on romance. Ashok Selvan and Ritika Singh are excellent as the two best friends who embark on marriage together and with the addition of a fantasy element and extended cameo roles for Vijya Sethupathi and Ramesh Thilak, Oh My Kadavule is a funny and entertaining watch.
The film starts with a celebration for Arjun (Ashok Selvan) who has finally managed to clear his college exams. This means drinks at a bar for Arjun and his two best friends, Anu (Ritika Singh) and Mani (Sha Ra). During the course of a number of tequila shots, Anu asks Arjun to marry her and since he cannot think of any reason why not, he agrees to the plan. Although Anu’s father (M.S. Bhaskar) initially had plans to marry Anu to a family friend, he’s not at all averse to the match since he knows Arjun and thinks he will look after his daughter well. It’s Arjun’s father (Gajaraj) who is more sceptical since he thinks Arjun lacks ambition and Anu could do much better for herself than Arjun as a life partner. I really like how it’s Anu and her father who call all the shots here, and Arjun just gets carried along. The opening scenes cleverly establish the personalities of the three friends and the discussion around Anu’s marriage cements their relationship while giving us a glimpse into how Arjun, Anu and Mani each see themselves.
Since Arjun doesn’t have a job, he ends up working for Anu’s father (M.S. Bhaskar) as a quality tester in the family ceramic factory, a job that requires him to test out the strength of the toilets they produce. This is played for laughs, but there is a serious side to the business and Ashwath Marimuthu does a beautiful job in incorporating this into the story in the second half.
While marrying your best friend might sound like a match made in heaven, it turns out to be anything but. Arjun has no romantic feelings for Anu at all and when he tries to kiss her, he bursts into giggles, while living together doesn’t turn out anything like either Arjun or Anu expected. The couple decide to let the relationship develop at its own pace, but it isn’t long before they are scrabbling and fighting, and when Anu sees Arjun behaving more kindly towards his high school crush Meera (Vani Bhojan), it’s the last straw in a relationship that was already teetering towards divorce. But at the family court, events take an unexpected turn, and Arjun ends up seeking the advice of the Love Court. This leads to a sliding doors moment when Arjun meets Kadavul (Vijay Sethupathi) and is given a golden ticket that allows him a second chance. This time round when Anu asks him to marry her, Arjun says no, and instead is able to start a relationship with Meera and follow his dreams of becoming an actor.
It’s one of the real strengths of the film, that the second half takes brief scenes from the first half and twists them slightly to reveal a whole new meaning. It sounds simple, but probably very difficult to do without being heavy handed and very obvious. But everything here is handled with a light touch and even the familiar development of a romance is given new life with a few different shades added to the relationships. What also works well is the relationship between the three friends. Arjun calls Anu noodle head and there is real affection and happiness in their friendship, which makes it understandable why they would go ahead and get married. The change in Arjun’s perception of their relationship is also neatly done in the second half, while the development of his romance with Meena is also nicely done.
Ashok Selvan continues to improve as an actor and he has more expression and empathy here than I’ve seen in his previous roles in Thegidi and Soodhu Kavvum. He does really well at showing the camaraderie and fondness in his relationships with Anu and Mani, although the romance with Meena is rather more conventional. Vani Bhojan is fine, although there isn’t a lot of scope in her role as Meena. However, Ashwath Marimuthu gives her character some attitude and she does a good job with this while still displaying moments of vulnerability in her scenes with Arjun. The best performance though comes from Ritika Singh who is excellent as Anu. I loved her in Aandavan Kattalai, and here she combines feistiness and compassion perfectly to paint a realistic picture of someone who is doing her best with a difficult situation. It’s a compelling performance and I totally believed in her characterisation of Anu at every stage. One of my favourite moments in the film is when Mani comes in to the divorce court to speak to Arjun, but then moves to sit with Anu, giving the explanation that she is his friend too. It’s this balance of emotions that works so well to make the film more than just another romantic comedy. I also loved Vijay Sethupathi and Ramesh Thilak as the God and his minister who turn Arjun’s life upside down. It’s a role just made for the uber-cool Mr Sethupathi and as always he does an excellent job.
I really enjoyed Oh My Kadavule and really appreciated the care that went into aligning the second half with the first. The mix of characters is great, and for once the comedy friend is used for more than just cheap laughs. The supernatural element adds a rather different twist, and I loved Anu’s character and the way she dealt with Arjun. The only issue with the version I watched was some very dodgy subtitles and a total lack of subs for the songs, which was a shame. I’m not sure if that was an issue with the streaming platform, but at least the subs were yellow and easily visible. Overall, this is a fun film, better than I expected and with the added draw of Vijay Sethupathi it’s definitely well worth watching online if you missed it at the cinema. 4 stars!