Cinema

Oopiri: Celebration of life, indeed

Nagarjuna, Karthi and Tamannaah

Nagarjuna, Karthi and Tamannaah  

‘Oopiri’ is a refreshing narrative of a bond between unlikely characters.

Oopiri is a rare film that justifies its hype. Vamsi Paidipally directs this Indian retelling of the French film, The Intouchables, and retains its mirth. The Intouchables was based on the true story of a French aristocrat Philippe Pozzo di Borgo and his caretaker, Abdel Sellou, a former conman from Algeria.

Film buffs who’ve watched the original can relive its best moments, comparing the frames, characters and sequences. Vamsi makes the film his own, infusing it with a delightful regional flavour.

You laugh with the characters, empathise with them as they battle their inner conflicts, and send a silent prayer for the wheelchair bound. It must be depressing to be invalid neck down and require help to do basic things — turn the pages of a book, drink water or step out for fresh air. If the wheelchair bound is a billionaire, like Vikramaditya (Nagarjuna), then he can employ caretakers.

He interviews dozens of men, each one more boring and pretentious than the previous candidate, and finally takes a liking to Sreenu (Karthi), who is out on parole and wants a job that will show him as a do-gooder. Sreenu is awed by the palatial house and the glamorous secretary Keerti (Tamannaah).

Oopiri narrates the unlikely brotherhood between these two characters. The billionaire doesn’t want pity; he needs a friend who would drive him around in his luxury car and not a custom-made van that resembles an ambulance. He needs someone to perk up the boring and predictable ‘surprise’ birthday party he’s subjected to year after year. He needs someone who can help him come to terms with his accident and the moving away of a loved one.

For the caretaker, money is everything. Socio-economic issues and a dysfunctional family pull him down and he needs someone who can wave a magic wand of power.

For a story like this, the casting needs to be spot on. Oopiri has the age-defying, graceful and restrained Nagarjuna, and the terrific Karthi. The film’s best portions unfold between these two characters and you wonder if their lives will be the same without each other. The billionaire can hire other caretakers but they may never rise above their duties of bathing, feeding and pushing the wheelchair. And the former conman will not have an older brother figure gently guiding him where needed. Karthi is a delight to watch and it’s hard to think of anyone else in his part.

The Paris episode seals their bond, making Vikramaditya rediscover himself and find peace. Sreenu’s family is a contrast to the gloss of Paris and Vamsi has a significant sub plot of the stubborn, righteous, mother (Jayasudha, commendable as always) who doesn’t forgive easily. The sibling angle is also dealt with well.

The track that explores Sreenu’s experiment with modern art is a hoot. So are the friendly pot shots taken at the legal advisor (Prakash Raj).

Tamannaah does her part with élan. The humour-filled romance between her and Karthi adds to the fun. Able support comes in from late actress Kalpana, while Anushka, Shriya and Adivi Sesh put in special appearances.

The director takes liberties to play to Nagarjuna’s romantic image, making him go on a date and get some adrenaline rush with swift cars. All this blends seamlessly with the narrative. But the gay humour is like a sore thumb.

P.S. Vinod’s camera and Gopi Sundar’s music enrich an already beautiful story.

It’s no mean feat to make a mainstream Telugu film where the hero sits on a wheelchair. But the next time an unconventional film is made, let’s hope the item number can be done away with.



Oopiri

Cast: Nagarjuna, Karthi, Tamannaah Bhatia

Direction: Vamsi Paidipally

Music: Gopi Sundar

Rating: 4 stars

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 4:12:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/oopiri-celebration-of-life-indeed/article8396557.ece

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