90 ML is an urban rom-com set around a premise that’s instantly relatable – a moralistic family being dismayed with a youngster, who suffers from foetal alcohol syndrome disorder (FASD).
Kartikeya plays Devadas, an MBA graduate, who suffers from FASD and has to take 90 ML alcohol thrice a day to survive. An authorised drinker, Devadas falls in love with Suvasana (Neha Solanki), a physiotherapist, who belongs to an idealistic family that has RSS roots. Directed by Sekhar Reddy Yarra, the film makes interesting observations about the young generation and highlights the need for women to be trained in self-defence, enjoy the benefits of education, equality and freedom.
The film avoids typical cliches you would expect in a commercial potboiler and addresses some pertinent issues like alcohol addiction, women empowerment and trust. The director throws in an interesting conflict of a man suffering from a peculiar disorder falling in love with an upright girl, who hates alcoholics. Unfortunately, this point doesn’t have a solid enough script for it to work as a rom-com with a strong message. The first hour of the film coasts along well on the strength of the humour blended well with the writing. But it gets repetitive and predictable in the second half.
The promising premise that had you hooked, in the beginning, gets lost midway in all those song-and-fight sequences. Also, a subplot involving Ravi Kishan and his sidekicks finding the man who bashed him is played for laughs but turns out to be silly and unconvincing. A clash between Devadas and Suvasana’s father takes up much of the film’s portions but not a lot of it feels interesting. The director faltered to give enough footage to the supporting actors like Pragathi and Satya Prakash to tide over these old-fashioned proceedings.
Although you feel empathy for its protagonist, the plot here is wafer-thin, and while some elements work, it never comes together as a satisfying whole. It certainly doesn’t help that the film unfolds over two hours and 40 minutes, excruciatingly long running time for what’s essentially a slim story of a young man with a disorder, who makes tedious attempts to win his girl. Kartikeya’s character is given some altruistic layers and he gets the act well. He just turns into a man suffering from a problem that only his parents know how to deal with it. However, the character quickly slips into stereotype with banal lines and situations that evoke boredom.
Neha Solanki’s character could have personified every other girl had the director dealt with the idea in a sensitive manner. So, instead of taking the protagonist to a de-addiction centre, it could have made some sense had the director delivered a solution or made an attempt to understand his problem right after intermission.
The lead pair have comfortable chemistry and their sparks make up for many of the script’s shortcomings. Overall, 90 ML is a promising story let down by its many indulgences.