Cinema

Oka Manasu: The hopeless romantics

Naga Shourya and Niharika Konidela  

Oka Manasu drew a fair bit of attention prior to its release. A small section of the audience who were impressed by director Rama Raju’s debut film Mallella Theeramlo Sirimalle Poovu were keen to see what he would do next. It also marks the debut of Niharika Konidela, a star daughter. The Telugu film industry has many star sons but star daughters are rare to come by.

Niharika Konidela is cast as Sandhya, a young woman who is deeply in love even though she knows the path ahead of her is not easy. It’s love at first sight for her when she chances upon Surya (Naga Shourya).

She is a medical student and he, a youngster with political aspirations. The setting for the romance is poetic and it all unfolds during a monsoon. Every now and then, Sandhya sees Surya roughing up people. He does small time ‘settlements’ as he awaits a chance to contest the local elections.

It’s one of those love stories where the two involved know it will be practical and sensible to go different ways and yet are unable to do so. Several films have explored this idea of being hopelessly in love. For such a trope to work, one should be able to connect with the characters. This, unfortunately, doesn’t happen here.

Ram Reddy’s cinematography is beautiful and the music by Sunil Kashyap is soothing. Yet, this entire romance seems contrived. It requires patience to sit through a film where every second dialogue spoken by every character sounds forcibly poetic or philosophical. At one point you feel like telling them, yes, we get you, just move on.

The film has a few interesting characters. Rao Ramesh plays Surya’s father, hoping against hope that his son would come out of the rut he’s fallen into. He’s convincing as always and an asset to the film. Pragathi plays the single mother to Sandhya, trying to drive sense into her stubborn daughter. The scene where she meets the guy whom her daughter is in love with and tries to understand what binds them together is meant to be a crucial one, where you empathise with the characters involved. But, unintentionally, a lot of people cracked up in the hall. Oka Manasu never really draws you in.

Naga Shourya is effortless and is growing as an actor with every film he does. Pragathi is natural and puts in a believable performance. A lot lies on Niharika’s shoulders since the story unfolds from her point of view. She has a good screen presence and makes a mark, but has to go a long way before she can hold a film on her own. RJ Hemanth is impressive in a short role.

Nothing works like a good, old-fashioned, idealistic take on romance, one that makes you believe in the bond that stands strong despite all odds. But if you’re watching one such story and are thoroughly bored, something surely is amiss.

Oka Manasu

Cast: Naga Shourya, Niharika Konidela

Direction: Rama Raju Gottimukkala

Music: Sunil Kashyap

Rating: 2


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Printable version | Jan 21, 2022 2:18:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/Oka-Manasu-The-hopeless-romantics/article14399232.ece

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