‘Ondu Sarala Prema Kathe’ movie review: A sluggish return to form for Suni

The Kannada film, starring Vinay Rajkumar, Swathishta Krishnan and Mallika Singh, chugs along nicely as a simple romantic drama until it resorts to hard-to-believe coincidences

February 09, 2024 02:08 pm | Updated 04:49 pm IST

A still from ‘Ondu Sarala Prema Kathe’.

A still from ‘Ondu Sarala Prema Kathe’. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Suni’s Ondu Sarala Prema Kathe comes a decade after his blockbuster debut, Simple Agi Ondh Love Story (2014), starring Rakshit ShettyAs someone pointed out on social media, the new film’s title reads exactly like another version of his first film’s name. This cheeky creative decision defines Suni’s journey in the Kannada film industry; the filmmaker has found excitement in such simple gimmicks, believing there is a strong demand for it. However, the results of his recent movies tell another story.

Ondu Sarala Prema Kathe starts on a positive note, without giving us a hint of how things are going to stumble later. Suni establishes his characters with fine control. Atishay (Vinay Rajkumar) is a music composer, while Anuraga (Swathishta Krishnan) is a brave television journalist who exposes corrupt politicians. The two have known each other since childhood, but both are perennially at loggerheads.

Ondu Sarala Prema Kathe (Kannada)
Director: Suni
Cast: Vinay Rajkumar, Swathishta Krishnan, Mallika Singh, Rajesh Nataranga, Sadhu Kokila
Runtime: 149 minutes
Storyline: In a twist of fate, poles apart youngsters Atishay, a music composer and Anu, a journalist, get married to each other. What happens when they decide to call off the marriage, and go on a quest for true love?

The film treats music and the world of musicians with dignity. Sadhu Kokila plays himself, a gifted music composer, and kudos to Suni for not wasting him on cringe comedy like most of the Kannada movies. Veer Samarth’s score emphasises more on tone and atmosphere, and it works well as the plot shifts to Mumbai and Jaisalmer. Malika Singh plays a singer and is the third party in the love triangle. It helps that her character is a non-Kannadiga, as Malika appears more natural while conversing in her preferred languages of English and Hindi.

But just when the plot seems set to take off, the writer in Suni becomes clueless. Once the second half kicks in, Ondu Sarala Prema Kathe suddenly feels all over the place, with uninteresting scenes and abrupt transitions from one scene to another. Suni introduces feeble conflicts at every plot turn, leaving us frustrated. Moreover, the performances of the three lead actors are ordinary too, though their laid-back charm suits the film’s simple tone.

Ondu Sarala Prema Kathe suffers from the director’s urge to make it an intelligent film, while all he had to do was create characters that emotionally resonate with the audience. It’s okay to keep the story interesting with a coincidence or two, but when the entire film depends on hard-to-believe coincidences, you know the writing isn’t good enough.

If the movie has to take a leaf out of Jab We Met, which also had poles-apart characters on the run, then it should be about creating entertaining chemistry between the central characters. Instead of joining the dots in the script, if only Suni had prioritised an emotional core, fans of the romance genre could have found it easier to accept this outing.

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However, Suni’s trademark quirky one-liners and his hold on situational comedy make the film tolerable. Ondu Sarala Prema Kathe does come alive in the closing portions, mainly because it goes back to being a film on music and musicians; that’s when you know the film needed a single and solid conflict to thrive fully. Suni makes a somewhat slow return to form with this film but mind you, the bar is low because of how underwhelming his previous movies (Avatara Purusha, Sakath, Bazar) were.

Ondu Sarala Prema Kathe is currently running in theatres

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