Review Tamil

Oh Manapenne! review: This Tamil remake of Pelli Choopulu (2016) hits all the sweet spots

Release Date: 22 Oct 2021


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Haricharan Pudipeddi

Oh Manapenne! takes a lighthearted approach to talk about how arranged marriages have become toxic with people mostly coming together for all the wrong reasons.

Tharun Bhascker’s Pelli Choopulu (2016) heralded the beginning of a new wave in Telugu cinema. The success of Pelli Choopulu paved the way for many young Telugu filmmakers to go against the grain and tell different stories and still be accepted and celebrated.

Pelli Choopulu was lauded for its fresh take on the concept of arranged marriage from an Indian middle-class perspective and the film's Tamil remake, Oh Manapenne! (2021), follows in its footsteps and manages to get a lot of things right in the process.

What Oh Manapenne! has successfully managed to do is look at the arranged marriage set-up from the perspective of two characters who are like chalk and cheese. Harish Kalyan plays Karthik, who is aimless and settles for the idea of getting married for dowry. Shruti (Priya Bhavani Shankar), on the other hand, is an MBA gold medallist and wants to travel to Australia to study further but is forced by her father to get married.

When Karthik and Shruti meet in what can best be described as a bizarre meeting, they decide to turn their love for food into a business. They plan to join hands to set up a food truck, and what follows when they eventually fall in love forms the crux of the story.

The film, despite being a remake of a film released five years ago, works largely because the idea still feels fresh. No other Southern film since the release of Pelli Choopulu has wanted to talk about arranged marriage, perhaps of fear of coming across as preachy. Oh Manapenne! takes a lighthearted approach to talk about how arranged marriages have become toxic with people in most cases coming together for all the wrong reasons. The subplot about Karthik thinking it is all right to take a dowry and survive on it is one of the horrors of the traditional Indian marriage system and the film deals with it in a sensible way with a good dose of humour. The fact that Oh Manapenne! doesn’t try to take the subject it deals with seriously works in its favour.

Pelli Choopulu marked the arrival of Vijay Deverakonda in Telugu cinema and Harish Kalyan is a worthy match in the role of Karthik. With his effortless screen presence, he makes the character instantly likeable.

Priya Bhavani Shankar as the clear-headed and ambitious Shruti is the kind of leading woman we need to see more often in Tamil cinema.

The music by Vishal Chandrasekhar is the film’s lifeline. His background score elevates the final quarter of an hour.

The film could have been shorter by a few minutes and the flashback portion featuring Ashwin is a bit of a downer. Otherwise, Oh Manapenne! is one of those rare remakes that is as good as the original if not better.

Oh Manapenne! is now available on Disney+ Hotstar.

 

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