'Oh Manapenne!' review: A decent remake that misses a few beats

Harish and Priya are perfectly cast, but although the supporting actors are good, something seemed amiss.

Published: 23rd October 2021 09:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd October 2021 09:31 AM   |  A+A-

Oh Manapenne!

Express News Service

“Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to many amazing films,” said Bong Joon Ho in his acceptance speech for Parasite at the Golden Globes. Many still can’t, and that validates the existence of remakes like Oh Manapenne! (of the Telugu blockbuster, Pelli Choopulu). Debutant director Kaarthikk Sundar is aware that he need not fix what ain’t broke and creates a largely faithful remake, save for a few reimaginations, a difference in production design, and of course, the cast.

The movies of Tharun Bhascker (who made his debut with Pelli Choopulu) are more about the vibe than the plot, and this was best embodied in his first film. Kaarthikk, to an extent, succeeds in recreating that ‘feel’ but does miss a few beats. While the characters came across as real people in the original, we see ‘actors’ in the Tamil iteration. I remember having similar issues with C/O Kadhal, the Tamil remake of C/O Kancharapalem, as well.

Oh Manapenne! begins with a meet cute of Karthik (Harish Kalyan), a good-for-nothing engineer willing to marry someone just for money, and Shruthi (Priya Bhavani Shankar), his polar opposite, and an MBA gold medalist who wants to earn money to study further in Australia. Yet, they do have similarities, like their collective hate for people who dip samosas in ketchup, which seems good enough to create that first spark. The premise and the eventual twist of their meet, I wouldn’t spoil for you in this review.

But it’s all essentially the good, old story of two opposites getting attracted. Harish and Priya are perfectly cast, but although the supporting actors are good, something seemed amiss. For example, Abhay Bethiganti played one of the two friends of the hero in the original. Though many good lines go to the other friend played by Priyadarshi, we still ‘feel’ the presence of Abhay. In contrast, Abishek Kumar, who reprises Abhay’s role here, feels absent. I suppose that’s more to do with the director than the actor. It’s this sort of subtlety that seems to have been lost in translation.

Harish Kalyan offers a fresh take on the central male character. While Vijay Devarakonda was edgier, Harish seems to have tuned in the passive Sree Kumar from Pyaar Prema Kaadhal. One can’t be sure if this was a conscious decision, but there’s no reason to complain, considering it is quite good.

Remakes are tricky business because despite their competency, they get measured against the success of the original. Rarely does a remake outshine its source material, and Oh Manapenne!, though competent, does not match up to the original Telugu film. To those eyes, however, that have not been exposed to the pleasures of Pelli Choopulu, Oh Manapenne! might manage to recreate some of the enjoyment.

Director: Kaarthikk Sundar
Cast: Harish Kalyan, Priya Bhavani Shankar
Streaming On: Disney+ Hotstar


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