Oy!

I’m a sucker for movies with romance storylines in Telugu films and as a result I’ve watched, and generally enjoyed, most of Siddharth’s films. He’s always good as a romantic hero although he has a tendency to be rather too chirpy at times, and I would really like to see him in some more serious roles. Although I don’t think that ‘Oy!’ is Siddharth’s best film, it’s one where I think he gives a more restrained performance than usual and as a result his character appears more appealing and likeable.

Director Anand Ranga mentions Eric Segals 1970 film Love Story as some of his inspiration during the opening credits, which gives us a clue that the romance is not going to end well. However Oy! is more upbeat than the original, and there is plenty of comedy between the two leads making it less of a tear-jerker.

The story starts by introducing the two main characters, showing them as very different people who lead very different lives. Uday (Siddharth) lives for the moment believing that life is short and must be enjoyed. Sandhya (Shamili) on the other hand thinks in the long-term and likes to plan well ahead. She doesn’t want to rush into anything and takes her time to make well-considered decisions. They also come from very different backgrounds as demonstrated by their modes of transportation.

To my delight, Uday’s introduction takes place via a song filmed in Melbourne, and eagle-eyed viewers will be able to spot a few locations which turned up in Orange more recently. I can’t believe I missed them filming this one though.

He does have it right about Melbourne!

Uday and Sandhya meet by chance in a club where Uday is celebrating his birthday which just happens to fall on New Year’s Day. He’s intrigued that Sandhya is sitting writing in her diary all alone in a bar but she really doesn’t want anything to do with him. To his initial conversation starters Sandhya points out that they don’t match as far as numerology goes, so it’s Happy New Year, Happy Birthday and Good-Bye. Alarm bells should immediately have started ringing at this point, but Uday is made of stronger stuff and immediately sets out to track her down with the aid of his friend Fatso (Krishnudo). Enquires around her neighbourhood also show Sandhya as a rather prickly character with no time for celebrations or religious festivals although she regularly fasts and is addicted to astrology, numerology and the like. So possibly not the best match for a party loving guy like Uday who enjoys the good things in life?

Uday’s father is a rich industrialist but as Sandhya hates rich people Uday doesn’t want to tell her about his background. Instead he pretends to need a place to stay just as Sandhya needs money to pay off a loan she has on her house and advertises for a lodger. From here the romance between the two blossoms as Uday sets out to charm Sandhya and convince her that she loves him too. This part of the film works well for me and I like the way the developing relationship between the two is portrayed.

However I do have a problem with the story from this point. Despite Uday proclaiming his love for Sandhya and asking her to accept him as her lifelong birthday gift, he still doesn’t come clean and tell her who he really is. This lack of honesty at a crucial point is a jarring note in the whole romance plot and isn’t helped as Uday continues to keep his real life secret. To add to this deception, Uday finds out that Sandhya has a life threatening illness and decides to keep it from her. Not just Uday, but also Sandhya’s doctors decide that she really doesn’t need to know that she is going to die in a few months. This does follow the plot of Love Story, but it was irritating then and just as nonsensical here. The idea of not telling someone they are going to die because you love them so much that you cannot bear to make their last moments unhappy is ridiculous. It is pure selfishness, a reluctance to deal with the reality of the situation and not love at all. Just as infuriating is that when Sandhya finds out she’s not even annoyed, but actually thanks Uday for making her last few months some of the happiest she has ever known! I wouldn’t have a problem at all with him taking her to places she wants to go, and making sure she gets to fulfil her wish-list if he’d only told her why he was doing it. This makes the whole second half of the film less enjoyable, although the trip to Kasi to immerse Sandhya’s parents and grandparents ashes in the Ganges could otherwise have been an interesting journey. There are still some excellent scenes in the second half though, and I love the crowd reaction when they go to see a Pawan Kalyan film on the first day, first show. As you can see it’s almost as good as the audience in Melbourne!

There is a separate comedy subplot which involves Sunil as an insurance salesman which ultimately forms the basis for why Uday and Sandhya discover she is ill. I usually like Sunil but apart from his initial scenes his comedy is rather laboured here. There is more unnecessary comedy on the boat involving Ali and Master Bharath which is best avoided. Really, the best comedy is in the romance between the two leads as Uday tries to conform to Sandhya’s list of the qualities she is looking for in a husband. Sandhya is a big fan of lists and seems to have one for every occasion.

What makes this film worth a watch for me are the performances from Siddharth and Shamili. The love story between the two is sweet and I like Uday’s happy approach to life in general. Siddharth manages to be cheerful without being manic and this more muted version of his typical happy-go-lucky persona is more realistic and easier to like. Shamili is good in her ‘girl next door’ role and the lack of glamour in her outfits is refreshing. Although she doesn’t have a lot of scope within her role, her change in personality isn’t too laboured and does seem fairly natural. Neither Siddharth or Shamili are brilliant dancers, but they are both fun to watch and the upbeat soundtrack by Yuvan Shankar Raja is excellent.

Despite the issues I have with the story there is still a lot I do like about Oy! The film is well shot by cinematographer Vijay K Chakravathy, flows well and looks good with some beautiful locations including Sandhya’s fantastic house by the sea. It’s also lovely to see a different location especially when it ends up looking as well as Vizag does here. I really enjoy the first half of Oy and just wish the story could have taken a different direction in the second half. As a result it ends up being a 3 ½ star movie when it could have been much more.

Temple says:

Despite finding Anand Ranga to be pleasant, thoughtful and interesting in his interactions with folks on Twitter and in interviews, I find much of this film unpleasant and shallow. It is technically very well made and looks great but I have too many issues with the story.

I have to disagree with Heather on some counts. There is nothing likeable or appealing about the character of Uday, and Siddharth seemed to be playing another variation on his ‘rich kid in love’ roles. He sees Sandhya and decides he has to have her. After all, she is the ultimate novelty – a woman who isn’t interested in him. The rot sets in with his decision to move into her house under false pretences. Compared to other stalker love stories like Anand where Anand knows he will one day have to face the consequences of his dishonesty, or even Arya 2 where Arya is a total nutter and his stalking is shown as part of the madness, Uday has no qualms. He does it because he wants to and we are supposed to find that romantic. My biggest issue is with the treatment of Sandhya’s terminal illness. I’ve had the sad experience of watching loved ones die after battling an illness for some time, so this pushed my buttons. While everyone has a bucket list of things they would like to do one day, that list is often very different when a person is told they don’t have so many days ahead of them. Having Uday and the ‘medical’ personnel decide that Sandhya would be happier not knowing was just disgusting. It is selfish and shows a lack of empathy and respect. Sandhya is a woman who planned for everything, thought through all her options – and they denied her that. Shamili gives a good performance in a role that starts off reasonably well but quickly devolves into a device for making the hero look more desirable. It’s a shame as I liked the way her back story was gradually revealed and Sandhya became more likeable and sympathetic. There were some really nice scenes that showed their developing friendship and the growing relationship. But as this romance was built on lies and manipulation I couldn’t find it charming.

I agree with Heather that the songs and the locations are really lovely. But that isn’t enough. I give this 1 ½ stars, just for the songs (especially ‘Seheri’ which was filmed near my old office)  and the technical and visual aspects of the film.

Orange

We had a vested interest in seeing Orange, having spent a lot of quality time loitering around the shoot as it took place in Melbourne. The lure of seeing Ram Charan on the big screen, along with the ever entertaining Genelia and our hometown was just too strong to ignore.  We avoid reading previews of new release films before we see them, as there is too much PR hype and politics to get much useful information, but the arrival of Charan on Twitter certainly got our attention! The cinema was full, and with a higher number of families and kids than we usually see at the South Indian films here.

Charan plays Ram, a wildlife photographer and graffiti artist with a truly excellent selection of t-shirts. He lives with his sister and brother-in-law in a fancy apartment and drives a flash car. He has strong views on love and honesty and won’t back away from his values. After an earlier relationship with Rooba (Shazahn Padamsee), shown in flashback, we see that he learned a lot about himself and what he wants from life. He doesn’t believe that simply saying ‘I love you’ makes for a relationship, and doesn’t believe it is honest or realistic to promise a lifelong love. He is affectionate, caring, demonstrative, but he is not going to commit to a lifetime, and he will not sacrifice just to keep his loved one happy. He doesn’t want his girlfriend to sacrifice anything for him either – he has been through this unhappiness and is genuinely trying to find an honest and respectful balance.

Genelia as Janu makes a ridiculously chirpy entrance to the film, cheering as she watches a marriage proposal and being as excited for the lovers as if it was her own relationship. She does believe in the idea of soulmates and lifelong love connection and wants that from her partner. She is in love with love, and looking for Mister Right. Several potential Mister Rights form part of the comic sideplot.

So of course, these lovely looking youngsters with completely opposing views fall for each other. The film is then about Ram and Janu getting to understand each other, and the choices they make.

With Puppy (Brahmi!) aiding and abetting Janu, the relationship develops in fits and starts. Ram is persistent and Janu is interested but wary of this charismatic suitor. We knew long before Brahmi mimed Krishna playing his flute that Ram was a ladies man! When he happily admits to having had NINE girlfriends, in relationships spanning from 1 to 387 days in length, Janu decides he is just too much to handle and tries to back off but cannot deny her feelings.

Although for the most part the film is a fluffy romance, there is a serious conflict at the core. While the audience can empathise with both sides, it is clear that something major would have to change for there to be a traditional boy gets girl happy ending.  We could maintain sympathy for both the romantic Janu and the more challenging Ram so found the conclusion to be reasonably satisfying and in keeping with the characters. However we suspect that if you can’t connect with Ram’s character, the film will not hold your interest.

Charan’s performance was great. He was charming, funny, energetic, emotionally engaging and totally looked the part. He was convincing as the school leaver Ram, and especially as the urbane young man about town and his body language really suited the different confidence levels of these stages of his life. The fight scenes were typically dramatic and physical, and Charan’s dancing is, of course, brilliant . The choreography was lots of fun and Charan seemed to have a great time sending up some cheesy romantic moves. Seeing these films without subtitles and having only a minimal understanding of language, we rely on the tone and expressions of actors. Charan made us see him as Ram and we understood his character’s views and feelings so we have to say it was a successful performance.

Genelia was her usual bubbly self, perhaps too bubbly, to start with but really showed some depth to Janu over the course of the film. She conveyed the struggle between having feelings for someone and knowing that it wasn’t going to work. We could see her grow from a carefree girl to a more independent young lady as she confronted her own beliefs and tested them for herself to see what she wanted.

Nagendra Babu had a small but pivotal role as Ram’s neighbour who was living in a stormy domestic situation.  Brahmi and Prakash Raj are always a familiar delight to behold. Brahmi got more to do in Orange , and his comedy was a bit more varied and often very funny. He also had a fine collection of t-shirts, and a habit of reading Mills & Boon before bed. Prakash Raj was the Telugu cop who gave Ram the reason to narrate his life story. He had little to do, and really it need not have been a Prakash Raj role although we are always pleased to see him. We did watch some of the scenes with him and Charan being shot so we certainly enjoyed that. The rest of the support cast were fine but as we have to concentrate on the main story, we didn’t really give them enough attention to be able to comment much.

We love the soundtrack and the songs looked amazing on screen. We are somewhat disappointed that Melbourne scenes are inter-cut with Sydney to give the impression of one Australian city, as the Melbourne -Sydney rivalry is HUGE, but we will forgive it as we got the opportunity to watch this film being made. Bhaskar managed to skirt the problem of geographic displacement by blending the locations well. The places Ram and Janu were seen were appropriate for their student lifestyle and helped the film’s credibility. We are always a bit judgmental about the skankily dressed white chicks in songs but Orange is family friendly for the most.

Some special notes: We greatly enjoyed Anand Ranga’s updates via Twitter, and shared his anxiety about the weather. When he casually mentioned filming with a lion, we expected maybe a fleeting appearance in a song. Not a full blown encounter with the King of the Jungle who apparently frequents the NSW forests. We cheered a lot! But the audience went wild when the Glen Iris tram was on screen – who knew the number 6 tram was that much of a star? We also enjoyed seeing a return of the pink panda t-shirt first spotted on Charan in  Magadheera, this time being worn by one of Ram’s friends. There was plenty for the alert viewer in Orange!