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‘Aadavallu Meeku Johaarlu’ movie review: Where is the humour?

Sharwanand, Rashmika, Radhika, Urvashi, Khushboo and others in 'Aadavallu Meeku Johaarlu'

Sharwanand, Rashmika, Radhika, Urvashi, Khushboo and others in 'Aadavallu Meeku Johaarlu' | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

‘It’s all about the women’ could have easily been the tagline of Aadavallu Meeku Johaarlu. The lead pair played by Sharwanand and Rashmika Mandanna aside, the Telugu film brings together Radhika Sarathkumar, Urvashi and Khushboo along with Jhansi, Satya Krishnan, Rajashri Nair and Kalyani Natarajan. Does the script have enough meat in it to warrant the presence of all these talented women? We shall get to that in a bit.

But first, the world of Aadavallu… Chiranjeevi (Sharwanand) grows up in the company of his mom (Radhika) and aunts who dote on him. They smother him with so much affection as a child that he learns to do a tightrope walk to keep all of them happy. He is a nice guy but is ultimately frustrated at not finding a bride who would be approved by all of them. 

A premise like that can pave the way for a story with plenty of humour. Those crackling moments are far and between, like a sip of water to parched throats. For most of the film, an inescapable television serial mood hangs in the air. The men of the house break the fourth wall in the beginning and inform us that they will appear now and then and that the women will take centre stage. So we get several scenes featuring the women dressed in their best and doing the things that on-screen happy joint family women do — cutting apples or making pickles.

The seven women who are portrayed as happy homemakers are contrasted by Khushboo as a single mother who helms a small scale industry and her daughter Aadhya (Rashmika Mandanna), a lawyer. We don’t get to see Rashmika as a lawyer, since the story is focussed on her personal life. There’s one scene where a woman seeks her help for a case and another where she stares into her office desktop, just to establish that she is a working woman. Never mind.

Aadavallu Meeku Johaarlu
Cast: Sharwanand, Rashmika, Radhika, Urvashi, Khushboo
Direction: Kishore Tirumala
Music: Devi Sri Prasad

While we know what troubles Chiranjeevi (there’s a huge poster of Chiranjeevi from Gang Leader to add credence to Sharwanand’s character name) early on, Aadhya is inscrutable in the beginning and with good reason. The narrative takes its time to establish the growing bond between Chiranjeevi and Aadhya, punctuating it with a hilarious scene where she friend zones him in a cafe. In many of these portions, Sharwanand and Rashmika keep us invested in the proceedings.

The entry of Aadhya’s mother should have moved the story into top gear. But it fritters away the opportunity by choosing the tried and tested route of Chiru entering Aadhya’s mother’s factory to win her approval. Khushboo’s characterisation of a single mother who does not trust men easily rings much more real than the other seven women who are portrayed in a cliched manner. We get a hint of Urvashi’s emotional vacuum and why she dotes on Chiru. As for the other women who have their daughters, is their love for Chiru primarily because he is the sole male child in the joint family?

Other subplots come in as Chiru tries to win the approval of Khushboo. The gag involving Sharwanand and Vennela Kishore in the house of a goon, while trying to help a friend, guarantees laugh-aloud moments. It is fun to watch Vennela Kishore stringing together the names of Malayalam films to form a gibberish sentence, before moving on to ‘Manike mage hithe’ and signing off as Shyam Singha Roy. 

The Chiru-Aadhya drama ends only after all the women have spoken their minds. The arguments are well intended — about both Chiru and Aadhya putting their families first and the women, given their own family backgrounds, learning to look at other points of view. But it gets melodramatic and boring. In between, as though to contrast the geniality of the women in Chiru’s household, we get to see Jhansi as a bitter single mother. Though it is easy to understand what makes her the way she is, this is a one-note character that does not get a due closure as the story progresses.

The film scores in terms of aesthetic production design and cinematography (Sujith Sarang), but the script needed some life. Devi Sri Prasad also tries to infuse the film with some mirth with his music. If only the film had more humour! There’s a pre-interval scene where Urvashi brings the hall down. To underutilise an actor like her feels like a criminal waste.


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Printable version | Mar 4, 2022 3:05:32 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/reviews/aadavallu-meeku-johaarlu-movie-review-where-is-the-humour/article65189718.ece