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Oh My Friend

Actors: Siddharth, Shruti Hassan, Navdeep, Hansika Motwani, Tanikella Bharani
Genre: Romance/ Drama
Rating: 2.5/5

Oscar Wilde once said “Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.” This is widely considered true, but the
plot of this film, penned by Venu Sriram is based completely against this tenet. Chandu and Siri are childhood friends who go on to find partners Ritu and Uday respectively. But Ritu and Uday are flabbergasted by  Siri and Chandu’s friendship, their transparency and that they are priority to each other. The story is overall about misunderstandings and reconciliations.


Siddharth hasn’t aged at all in the last decade and this helps him look and play Chandu with a lot of ease. Youthful charisma intact, his mannerisms and language (as a 25 year old may be) are very today, and given his flair for reel emotional outbursts and romance, matches expectations. Siddharth may not have had to do any homework for this role, but learning to hold and play the guitar better would have helped (a la Rockstar’s Ranbir Kapoor) push his dominance. Shruti Hassan plays Siri, and has shown considerable improvement from AOD in emoting and using body language to accentuate her importance in a scene. Her plusses would be her non-native charm, her unconventional looks (remindful of her mom Sarika), her dancing ability, and her singing (yes she was the female voice in the Sri Chaitanya song). All her negatives must bow down to her intermittent hamming in the Telangana accent and the occassional ‘samputha bidda’ which just don’t connect with the audiences.

Hansika Motwani plays Ritu, and Chandu’s romantic interest. Hansika has grown horizontally considerably and any GreatAndhra-ish adjectives don’t hold true. Ritu is a sidelined character in Chandu’s life, playing second fiddle to a more important character Siri. Hansika is given considerably less screen time and is expected to show her frustration over Chandu prioritizing Siri, and Haniska does not pass the litmus test, with various reasons to blame including direction. If it worsens the case anymore Hansika does not look eye candy either. Navdeep has a stronger screen presence than Siddharth. There. I said it. Expected to play second fiddle to Chandu, Navdeep as Uday does a good job of convincingly raising questions, displaying possessiveness, and playing well the guy you almost want to hate. Tanikella Bharani plays Chandu’s abrasive dad (who is but nice to others), runs a middle-class family, and is broad minded towards relationships. This character unfolds gradually to show one shade after another, and nothing negative. The character is very relatable and Tanikella is a perfect fit.

Nothing about the film spells it is the brainchild of a debutante, that of Director Venu Sriram. This type of plot is not novel, but the treatment of detail along with the screenplay, also by Venu, is what sets this film apart. The progression of the plot is very predictable. Venu is able to extract decent performances overall and use ordinary story elements and almost no props to weave a story replete with many nuances, not all of them boring. If there could be any improvement, it would be depth in character/role development within the plot, without which the screenplay also could take a beating, and it does. Friendships and relationships established, there is not much to extrapolate. So to the common viewer, the screenplay would seem circuitous, slow and unnecessarily dragging. The abrupt pre-climax helps to raise viewer curiosity but the climax is not poignant enough to impress. 

 by Vijay Ckakravarthy, coupled with production values of Dil Raju’s enterprise is meritorious. Close ups are definitely better shot and much better in quality in comparison to scenes with all four characters. Shots of the city roads are not very convincing and easily identifiable as being from a film set. The art direction is nothing ornate but Vijay has made use of locations like a middle class home, a school, a bookstore, Hyderabad flyovers, parks, and especially the resort in Kerala. If anything, Vijay could be better at shooting Chandu’s on stage performances, where he could also capture the crowds better. Too much focus on Chandu when it’s actually a band competition spoils the purpose of the scene.

Why 2.5/5

If you can ignore flaws like Chandu’s random split-second decision leading to a preclimax when Uday refuses to marry Siri, or Chandu being asked to join a band as a lead guitarist but he quickly also becomes the lead singer(?!), or Chandu playing an acoustic guitar when the music is that from an electric guitar, etc.; you may not question other issues with the plot or its progression either. The plusses in the movie are performances of the actors and Venu’s ability to build a house of cards, but then again. The negatives are not really so, as much it is about lack of experience in direction, screenplay and cinematography. Venu Sriram, Dil Raju and team deserve credit for keeping OMF real, and short of God. The movie mainly underscores man-woman friendship, and leaves you with thoughts worth pondering on.


Actors: Ranbir Kapoor, Nargis Fakhri, Kumud Mishra, Piyush Mishra
Rating: 3.5/5

Sheher mein hoon main tere, aake mujhe mil toh le; Dena na tu kuch magar, aake mera dil toh tu lele jaana”, sings Ranbir somewhere in the movie. These lines explain the protagonist’s mood, his want and also the soul of this film. The plot of this film, written by Imtiaz Ali is about a Jatt lad Janardhan aka JJ aka Jordan (Ranbir Kapoor) hailing from Delhi, who makes it big as a Rockstar. The story is not so much about Jordan’s rise to fame as much it is about a Rockstar’s mental turmoil, the ebbs and tides in his life that come with his longing for Heer Kaul (Nargis Fakhri), his friend from college, who he eventually develops feelings towards, and after she enters into wedlock. This kind of work is innate to Imtiaz Ali, where characters meet, and realizations about their feelings happen at a later time; but the script is fresh in that it uses the backdrop of a public figure’s life and is outside the mundane. 

Jordan’s role had two main facets – agony and felicity, both emotions pretty much sourced off his relationship with Heer. Ranbir Kapoor has been able to pull both emotions off with ease, and also convincingly brings out an artiste's whimsical nature that comes with the flip of a switch. Theoretically speaking, he could not have done this role any better. If there could be anymore justice, it would require Imtiaz to go off on a tangent to develop Jordan’s role further but it was not necessary. Ranbir’s Hindi accent as a Jatt boy, his initial friendship with Heer, and more importantly as a Rockstar performing on stage are exemplary attributes of his character. Specifics like holding the guitar right, simple basics like knowing when to play tablature versus chords (as and how music transitions progress), and holding chords correctly are some noticeable plusses, that other B-town actors regularly fail to improvise on. Romance comes very easily to Ranbir and he scores big on being able to charm his lady love on screen, and by also being witty. Nargis Fakhri has debuted opposite an actor who has tried out a variety of roles, and it must have been a challenge to grab eyeballs in any shot. Minimal makeup saves her, but her anglicized Hindi, her inability to cry when required most, and more importantly expressing sadness are clearly her shortcomings. What Nargis did best was to lie down on a bed to play a patient suffering from Born Marrow Applasia. While Ranbir leaves an indelible impression, Nargis is not irreplaceable, but surely will win some male fans. 

Piyush Mishra as Dhingra, an executive at a record-label company plays a stereotyped character- grouchy, miserly and demanding. His accent is his asset and he uses it convincingly to support his short role. Piyush Mishra as Khatana Bhai provides slight comical detours with his quips. He also plays JJ's mentor, and to the effect that Jordan really comes to be because of Khatana Bhai’s “Jab tak taqleef nao ho na life mein, tab tak koi bada nai banta!”. Khatana is interjected in the storyline at various junctures to transition Jordan from lover to Rockstar (and thus the screenplay), who would transition back after the act. Piyush is probably remindful of some real life characters (read well-wishers) we may know. 

Although Imtiaz has written scripts earlier in which the lovers separate, gloom descends, and only for them to meet again, this story has some twists. Director Imtiaz has treaded on a practical path, and nowhere does the direction of the story seem flimsy. The first part of the movie sets a good pace with scenes from the who of Jordan, the present, to the how, leading to his past. Imtiaz has done a great balancing act of strongly etching the private life of a public figure. The second half is considerably slow, with most of the content on the storyboard by intermission. It drags mainly because of the repetitive nature of the screenplay by Imtiaz. More depth in storyline could have possibly helped, but it seemed like Imtiaz wanted the emotional connect between the two characters shoulder the second half altogether and of course, it falls short. If you can ingore that the title is a mashup of 2 logos, AC DC's and video game Rockband's, the police chase in Prague that is unresolved, and presence of some native Bollywood love story elements, it’s a brave effort by Imtiaz for stitching together a wonderful range of musical elements and emotions together. 

Cinematography by Anil Mehta is mostly documentary-ish for scenes shot in India, and very rich with scenes shot abroad (Prague, etc). But the visual appeal of snow capped mountains of Kashmir take the cake. Anil has shown great skill in sensitively capturing the intimacy between Jordan and Heer. The stage show scenes, the crowds are adequately captured to prove on celluloid the magnitude of popularity of an artiste called Jordan, which was critical to the storyline. Editing by Aarti Bajaj is greatly in sync with Director Imtiaz’s vision. From a viewer’s standpoint, every single minute of the experience is entertaining. If anything, the slow screenplay in the second half could be shaken up a bit, but this would not be Aarti’s role. So from a content-parsing standpoint, Aarti has ensured that every reel made sense, and it sure does. 

This is the heart of the film. Music by A.R.Rahman helps propel the story too. The music is a lot of fusion, with quite a bit of European flavour – primarily German and Russian. Then there’s some amazing guitar solos, and great percussions to certify Jordan as a Rock artiste. Mohit Chauhan has lent his voice for Jordan, and boy, is it a silk route! Lyrics by Irshad Kamil are key too because that’s where Jordan’s emotions really are, and he does a fantastic job of matching mood of the tune to the lyrics (unlike some songs where Eg. the mood of the tune is high-spirited but the singer is crying out). The lyrics could even be a monologue, but Rahman's tunes add the magical touch. Without a question, his tunes complement the direction of the film, and Jordan’s emotional state. If it has not grown on you, give it more time.

WHY 3.5/5:
The good: Ranbir Kapoor’s performance; the music; screenplay in first half; the editing; the cinematography 
The bad: A could-have-been better Nargis Fakhri; a slow second half

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