Nagarjuna and Rakul Preet Singh have collaborated with actor-turned-director Rahul Ravindran for a rom-com Manmadhudu 2. A remake of 2006 French film Prête-moi ta main (I Do), the film, set in Portugal, charts the story of a middle-aged perfumer Sam alias Samba Shiva Rao (Nagarjuna), who is surrounded by his mother and three sisters and doesn’t want any kind of serious relationship in his life.
While his family wants him to get married, Sam refuses and has a fallout with them. He believes in having one-night stands but has to budge when his mother insists him to get married within three months.
She is worried that he might end up being a loner after she passes away. To get over this complex situation, Sam gets Avanthika (Rakul Preet Singh) on board as his girlfriend and tells her to ditch him on the wedding day (Alludugaru, Greeku Veerudu, anyone?). The film is a rat race of marriage and allowing the protagonist to further defend his belief to not get married runs for the next two hours.
Ever since the film has been named Manmadhudu 2, the team has been constantly reminding us of two things – one that it’s not a sequel or an extension to 2002 runaway hit Manmadhudu, also starring Nagarjuna and written by Trivikram Srinivas and it is a legitimate remake of a French film and Nagarjuna’s Annapurna Studios has acquired remake rights for a fancy price.
Rightfully, this Rahul Ravindran directorial is no match to Manmadhudu in any aspect and I wonder why they have coined the idea to name it Manmadhudu 2? Is it just because the protagonist is a playboy who likes to do a one-night stand with the prettiest women around him?
Or to show us that the 59-year-old actor is still young at heart and can pull off his favourite romantic avatar with ease! The problem to satisfy these aspects only makes things go out of the place as the interesting storyline becomes second to everything else! There’s no room for moist eyes in this film that’s crammed with too many aspects all at once.
Rahul has taken the core idea of the French film and gave it a desi touch. But he couldn’t exploit the depth in the ripe scenarios and makes it a repetitive and predictable mess due to lack of emotional complexity. The screen doesn’t move swiftly and exposes many of the script’s glaring plotholes. Despite some powerful moments, the narrative is so thin on plot and sluggish in the pace that by the end of it you’ll feel the film took just as long to unfold.
Adding to that, the director has squeezed in an unnecessary subplot of Sam parting ways with his ex-flame Suma (Keerthy Suresh) because his family doesn’t approve of their love story and reject her due to some domestic reasons. I think it makes no sense here!
I thoroughly enjoyed the film as long as it sticks to its comic tone. Especially, the conversation between Nagarjuna and Vennela Kishore, who has played a loyal assistant Kishore to the hilt and the marriage scene where the duo brought the house down by repeating the popular emotional act of Sivaji Ganesan from Rajinikanth’s Narasimha by holding a pillar over and over again. It’s that one best scene of the film that had the audience in splits.
It is one of the films that instead of men making fun or body shaming women, it pits man against man, each shaming the other on thing related to their age, looks and relationship status. I must say most of these jokes get the loudest cheers. Vennela Kishore steals the thunder frequently with his witty lines and not surprisingly makes much of it work.
The silver lining is that the protagonist being a playboy was making genuine attempts to restore a woman’s dignity and defending gender equality in fighting violence and discrimination in a relationship. It’s a relief to see this film not falling into the stereotypes of those redundant systems like misogyny and patriarchy which fail to provide justice to women.
The film largely rests on the shoulders of its lead actors and there are some scenes where you feel empathy to them. But what the story lacks is the soul and which is why you won’t root for either of them. Rakul looks stunning onscreen and she performed exceptionally well in the climax sequences.
Rao Ramesh makes his presence felt as Ithar Pushparaj.
Lakshmi as Sam’s mother who tries and occasionally succeeds in infusing some emotion into the proceedings. However, she lends credibility to the narrative with her earnest performance. Others like Jhansi, Devadarshini and Akshara Gowda deliver single-minded performance as Sam’s sisters.
Save for a few comic sequences provided by Vennela Kishore, Manmadhudu 2 is a bumpy ride that struggles to take off at the right time. The convoluted plot devoid of the emotional arc makes it a dreary affair.
Movie: Manmadhudu 2
Cast: Nagarjuna Akkineni, Rakul Preet Singh, Lakshmi, Vennela Kishore
Director: Rahul Ravindran