'Kushi', produced by Mythri Movie Makers, hit the cinemas today (September 1). In this section, we are going to review the latest box-office release.
Viplav falls for Aradhya while on a job in Kashmir. Viplav's father Lenin Sathyam is a rationalist and an atheist who dislikes God-believing folks. In contrast, Aradhya hails from an orthodox Brahmin family and her father Chadarangam Srinivasa Rao is an exponent of religious sermons. When they decide to get married, the two dialectical worlds come to clash with each other. Meanwhile, post their wedding, Viplav and Aradhya develop differences. How the two plots come together for a final 15 minutes is the crux of the film.
Vijay Deverakonda and Samantha Ruth Prabhu make the romance come alive on screen. The former delivers a personal performance throughout. Their chemistry makes us root for them right from their first meet-cute in Kashmir. This is a case of both Vijay returning to form.
Samantha looks more comfortable in the serious scenes than in the lightweight ones. She is ageless. On the flip side, Chinmayi's dubbing in the Kashmir portions looks off and too oldish for the actress.
Murali Sharma (as Aradhya's father) fits the bill. He is commanding as a man of faith. Sachin Khedekar (as Viplav's father) is good; he doesn't make his stubborn character look hollow. Saranya (as Viplav's mother) is average, while Lakshmi (as Aradhya's grandmother) is very good in the scene where she slaps her mean son. Rohini as Zoya, Viplav's boss, is nice in a scene set in Alleppey. Jayaram plays Thomas, Zoya's fun-loving go-getter. Srikanth Iyengar is seen as Aradhya's boss and his character is as inconsequential as those played by Vennela Kishore, Rahul Ramakrishna and Saranya Pradeep.
Murali G of 'Kabali', 'Kaala' fame is back to his 'Andala Rakshasi' style of cinematography. He lets the frames do the dancing and singing in the Kashmir and Alleppey portions. His cinematography makes this family-friendly drama visually pleasing. Hesham Abdul Wahab's 'Aradhya' sets the perfect mood for the roller-coaster ride set to unfold in the second half. 'Na Roja Nuvve' and the title track have been staged well.
The costumes, the colourful background, and the production design as a whole aid the visual appeal of the movie.
Director Shiva Nirvana didn't reveal the central conceit of the film anywhere in the trailer. In his pre-release interviews, he merely said that the film explores a sensitive element in the lead pair's marital relationship. One would have expected the film to come together as a whole in the second half. But the screenplay is content with superficial ideas and surface-level emotions.
At least two episodes in the second half looked farcical and even below-the-belt. The party scene is topped with a generic song that complains about the 'knives' called wives, while the fertility centre scene is embellished with a frivolous comedy about a man's reproductive abilities.
The Kashmir portions, where we see Aradhya masquerade herself as a Pakistani Muslim, don't work either. They are even farcical. The scenes that take place in this segment have no direct bearing on the psyche of the lead pair or the core conflict of the film.
That the easy-going relationship between Viplav and Aradhya will give way to hiccups was a foregone conclusion. But when they actually start having domestic fights, we don't sense any churning. There is a palpable lack of tension.
Aradhya feels slighted and emotionally shattered when someone slams the door on her. This is a nice idea and is also psychological in nature. But we don't feel for her because the character establishment is too generic in the first half. The Kashmir portions show her as a bimbo who lets a complete stranger search for one Feroze across the town like a headless chicken.
What are the plus points? A couple of dialogues between the newlywed do work. The role of religious orthodoxy in determining the path of a romantic relationship has been touched upon, although the same hasn't been explored with maturity.
Although not so layered, 'Kushi' takes flight to an extent. Director Nirvana fails to build the tension well. The film relies excessively on the lead pair and the music.