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‘Most Eligible Bachelor’ movie review: Part-fun, part-preachy story of finding love

Akhil Akkineni and Pooja Hegde in ‘Most Eligible Bachelor’  

The film’s title is less of a statement and more of a question, and thereby hangs a tale. In conventional societal norms, Harsha (Akhil Akkineni) would tick all the boxes to qualify as the most eligible bachelor. He has a well-paying job in the US, invests in a new house and sets up everything to move in with his soulmate. He even turns down a live-in overture because he is the quintessential nice guy who doesn’t want to do something that his family back in India, wouldn’t approve of. Sweet, isn’t it?

Most Eligible Bachelor
  • Cast: Akhil Akkineni, Pooja Hegde
  • Direction: Bhaskar
  • Music: Gopi Sundar

But does Harsha really know what he wants from marriage? The story throws this question at Harsha by pitting him against a more worldly wise woman, Vibha (Pooja Hegde). The shallowness in the approach of Harsha’s large, doting family is evident in the way they make arrangements for his wedding, despite the fact that he is yet to choose his bride. Harsha arrives in India on a 20-day vacation and both he and his family are confident that things will fall in place. After all, he is the most eligible bachelor.

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Many women who have gone through the rigours of matchmaking might have come across NRI grooms visiting India barely for a few days and wanting to find a life partner in that period. That sort of entitlement from a groom’s family might be accepted by some, but there will be women like Vibha who will question it.

It’s a relevant and interesting premise for a rom-com. Harsha’s meetings with prospective brides, interspersed with the comedy of errors when he runs into Vibha’s father (Murali Sharma) are fun to watch. What happens when Harsha, who does not know the world outside his cocoon, is smitten by Vibha and begins absorbing every line she says, is narrated hilariously.

To give Vibha’s character an extra edge, she is portrayed as a stand-up comic. Her jokes are almost always on marriages and relationships but the lines are rather bland. As the story progresses, we understand what gnaws at her and how she turns her agony into jokes.

So far so good. But after posing the question of what Harsha wants from marriage, the story falters. In real life, had Harsha returned from the US the second time, driven by the eagerness to meet Vibha and mend things after a spat, he might have gone and had a chat with her. But this is a rom-com without much imagination. In the garb of adding humour and drama, the narrative shows Harsha shadowing Vibha. He isn’t a creepy stalker but it still doesn’t feel like the right way to do it. Surely there are better ways by which the story could have shown how they begin to bond.

In the process of Harsha and Vibha finding their soulmates in each other, the story ends up painting all other couples around them as people stuck in unhappy marriages. Marriage is all about adjustments, characters keep reiterating. Director Bhaskar says it doesn’t have to be so, through a narrative that gets preachy. One of the tropes towards the end, because of which Vibha finds a safety net in Harsha, also comes across as manipulative.

A major portion of the story is narrated in the presence of real-life couple Rahul Ravindran and Chinmayi Sripada who are adored for standing by each other in times of turmoil. This story ends up painting even their characters as people who go through their marriage with compromises and adjustments. Sigh. It can’t be that only Harsha and Vibha are determined to lead their life with ever-lasting romance, isn’t it?

Most Eligible Bachelor has technical finesse, a pleasing lead pair, offers a few laughs and hummable songs, but doesn’t sweep you off your feet. Pooja Hegde is lovely as Vibha and shows that she has more acting potential waiting to be tapped. Akhil Akkineni shows a lot of improvement as an actor and is good as Harsha. Among the melee of supporting actors, only Murali Sharma stands out.

Somewhere in the middle of the film, Harsha tells another character that she has seen the length and breadth of an issue but not its depth. The same goes for this film. Its understanding of what makes relationships click remains at a surface level.


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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 9:13:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/reviews/most-eligible-bachelor-movie-review-pooja-hegde-akhil-akkineni-prop-up-a-part-fun-part-preachy-rom-com/article37016653.ece

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