‘MAD’ movie review: Light-hearted campus fun

Sangeeth Shobhan and Vishnu Oi sparkle in director Kalyan Shankar’s campus entertainer ‘MAD’, which packs in plenty of laughs within its wafer-thin storyline 

Updated - October 06, 2023 06:36 pm IST

Published - October 06, 2023 04:37 pm IST

MAD, directed by Kalyan Shankar, is a hilarious campus caper that does not take itself too seriously

MAD, directed by Kalyan Shankar, is a hilarious campus caper that does not take itself too seriously

Director Kalyan Shankar’s Telugu film MAD, which gets its name from its three principal characters — Manoj (Ram Nithin), Ashok (Nithin Narne) and Damodar (Sangeeth Shobhan) — lives up to its name by delivering a madcap entertainer. The laughs are so abundant that you don’t bother about its sliver of a story. Watching MAD is like stepping into an engineering campus and being privy to the fun riot in the classrooms and hostels. It does not take itself seriously and hopes that its viewers will not either.

Kalyan Shankar speaks to the late teens and early 20s about campus days. The narrative unfolds from the point of view of Ganesh aka Laddu (Vishnu Oi), a super senior who reminisces his early days on campus to a fresher who feels lost and wants to go home. Laddu has been there and faced a similar situation, only to be a changed man within a few days of experiencing campus life and forging new friendships.

Certain things in MAD are typical of a filmi campus caper. No one studies; the rare ones that do are shooed away with a remark, ‘who comes to the library to study? Go home’. Professors and the principal aren’t spared from becoming the butt of jokes.

MAD (Telugu)
Cast: Sangeeth Shobhan, Nithin Narne, Ram Nithin, Vishnu Oi
Direction: Kalyan Shankar
Music: Bheema Ceciroleo
Storyline: The fun-filled life and times of Manoj, Ashok and Damodar (MAD) on an engineering campus.

If you look past this, the hilarity in MAD comes from the small, absurd incidents. For instance, an egg puff is reason enough for a long-standing war between two campuses!

The film is a riot once we are introduced to Manoj, who thinks he is a charmer, the introverted and brooding Ashok who doesn’t make friends easily, and the goofy Damodar aka DD who can liven up things for everyone around him.

The entire stretch in which DD, who knows nothing about playing basketball, trains a team of boys by following the motivational rigamarole that one would witness in sports movies, is a riot. He has the zeal and yearning to win but does not know the game. Sangeeth has a lot of fun playing the happy-go-lucky DD discovering a new world after his ‘Zilla parishad Telugu medium school’. 

At the same time, the conversations between Laddu and his father (Muralidhar Goud of DJ Tillu fame) are hilarious. Muralidhar is easily one of the best actors in Telugu cinema today to play the frustrated father who delivers snarky lines with a deadpan expression. Vishnu Oi plays a self-aware character who fits the bill of a super-senior student.

There’s enough room for romance for the three main characters. Gouri Priya and Ananthika play their brief parts with earnestness. DD’s romance has a hint of mystery, but an hour into the film, it is not tough to fathom who could be behind the mystery. 

The boys hostel is named after Bhagat Singh while the girls hostel is named after Rani Jhansi Lakshmi Bai, which can be inferred as the students quest for independence. Within the framework of the hostel, though, the film shows how much fun can be had. 

Perhaps years later, Manoj, Ashok and Damodar will look back on their campus days, their Happy Days, and smile. The film is content narrating this chapter in their lives without asking big questions about their aspirations. 

This campus caper also doffs its hat to Anudeep KV, the writer-director of another farce Jathi Ratnalu, who appears in a cameo. 

MAD isn’t one of those movies that might be remembered for long. But it delivers ample fun while it lasts.

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