The world around a photographer nearly collapses when his girlfriend walks out on him. A week later when she calls him, he answers the call between wiping his tears and rushes to meet her, hoping she would see reason and they’d be together again.

In the second story, a virtuous guy twiddles his thumb helplessly, torn between holding on to his gentleman image and letting anger get the better of him, when his fiancé continues to engage with her ex.

Last Friday we saw a film with three stories (Prema Ishq Kadhal), each showing the woman in a negative light. This week we have Second Hand, told from a male perspective for the most part. Sudheer Varma is the photographer and Dhanya Balakrishna his girlfriend. The difference in wealth and hence social standing weighs on his mind but she assures she is happy in his company. Kireeti Damaraju is the gentleman at the receiving end of a woman (Dhanya in a second role) unable to call it quits with her boyfriend.

The two male protagonists cross paths and cry over each other’s shoulders, and we wait to see if director Kishore Tirumala is spinning a yarn to win sympathy votes for men. You can scratch beneath the fun surface and disagree with what seems to be a misogynist take or go with the flow of the stories and enjoy the humour with which women can make grown-up men cry.

Second Hand is not Pyar ka Punchnama. Far from it. As if to provide a counterpoint, Kishore Tirumala provides a third story in which a girl (Dhanya in a third role) is a victim. Here’s where the film slows down and gets serious. Before we think it’s a girl’s story, the director feels not all women can be simple enough to accept a knight in shining armour. They want unflinching love, commitment and stability but they also want their man to be perfect.

The men and women in this film are confused about relationships, struggling to come to terms with the Mars-Venus clashes. The pace varies from racy to sluggish, packing in nuggets of relationship wisdom that results in plenty of laughter. There are times when we feel a few short stories have been woven together and stretched to prove a point about women who can drive men over the edge.

Yet, the writing is largely refreshing and Kishore Tirumala has to be commended for casting Dhanya in different roles, first as perceived by two men and then her own story. The ensemble cast comes up with good performances, especially Dhanya and Kireeti Damaraju. Dhanya is an actress we’d like to see more of. Kireeti is remarkable as the awkward good guy who realises he’s been taken on a royal ride. Sudheer, Vishnu and Anooj are apt in their parts.

Second Hand doesn’t have its couples promising eternal love and walking into sunset. If you can sit back and laugh at Mars-Venus tug of wars as well as confused relationships and not get judgemental about the characters, the film makes for a fun watch.

SECOND HAND

Cast: Dhanya Balakrishnan, Sudheer Varma, Kireeti Damaraju, Vishnuvardhan and Anooj Ram.

Direction: Kishore Tirumala

Music: Ravichandra

Bottomline: Mysterious are the ways of women