Mohanakrishna Indraganti’s Ami Thumi (2017) Movie Review
Movie Review: Ami Thumi
Star Cast: Avasarala Srinivas, Adivi Sesh, Eesha Rebba, Aditi Myakal, Tanikella Bharini, Vennela Kishore and Ananth Babu
Directed by Mohanakrishna Indraganti
Music Composed by Mani Sharma
Cinematography by P G Vinda
Censor Certificate: U & Run-time: 124.33 Minutes
Oh MohanaKrishna. What were you attempting here?
Well, it looks very much like a straightforward romantic comedy, but completely forgettable. Following a sort of ‘The Duenna’, it’s weird to see Mohanakrishna take on a project recalling more of his earlier comedy works with a hint of ‘Vinodham’ around it. The trouble here is two folded…
- The comedy feels far more like an afterthought in service of getting Vennela Kishore & Shayamala Devi
- Even though Shayamala Devi is a Nandi Award winning performer, but in this amateurishly written character even she fails to find sense of timing. Her personality is attempting to achieve some sort of nebbech humor here, but it comes off less as Relangi Narasimha Rao’s style humor and more of a sitcom star level comedy.
Plus, the story and direction in general feel muddled with balancing the ‘comedy of Errors’ and the forsaken identity, evoking Bergman and Tollywood farce in ways that clash in a non-contextual way.
The story of Ami Thumi, if we can say that exists is simple: Vijay (Srinivas Avasarala) and Ananth (Adivi Sesh) are two good friends, and Maya (Aditi) and Deepika (Eesha Rebba) are acquaintances. Ananth falls for Deepika and Maaya falls for Vijay, and two rich fathers/ enemies will do anything to destroy two budding relationships for their greediness. And Sri Chilipi comes into the story to use that greed. That’s basically it. There is no real plot; instead there are sequences where fathers devise a greedy game, which is thwarted by the young lovers with Sri Chillipi (Vennela Kishore).
This is a kind of film that you and I will forget after watching it without second thought. To be clear, we don’t even bother that if the song has ended unless we need to know every detail in general and has an OCD to last till the final credit has rolled out. This is a kind of film that tries to poke fun at few things but ends up being a facade of what it aims to be. It neither tries to be constructive nor neither it has a purpose. Not every film needs a purpose but a story when told tries to pretend that it does have a purpose to be told. For example, when two people meet for time pass, for connection, to scare the other, just to screw up with them you tend to share stories. You tend to narrate experiences and a film’s purpose is just that. To all 150 to 1000 members sitting at a screening the characters are talking to each one of them separately at the same time. You might be seeing the same images but your interpretations vary. Such interpretations lead to a discussion and there you go, you have a purpose for telling a story in movie format. So, what purpose did Ami Thumi serve?
If you take propelling Vennela Kishore‘s credentials and actors along with technicians and director’s bank accounts to ‘sum’ extent then the movie’s purpose is served. It does a great job in keeping the costs at bear minimum and bring out good quality output that doesn’t feel like a home video for the amount the producers claim to have spent. Well that doesn’t concern our judgement on the content, does that? This film is a dark weak meek shadow of what it could have been. Give the same idea to an in-form Vamsy, he could have made a delightful satire like Chettu kinda Plidar or take this exact script to Kamal Hasan he would have changed it into a Tenali or Panchatantram. Those are “Screw-ball” comedies not this routine piece of half-baked satire. The movie has a premise that made Preminchi Chudu, starring ANR, Jagayya, Relangi what it is, a classic satire.
There too an elderly father wants a billionaire to be his son-in-law. He is easily fooled by two young lovers who claim to be filthy rich father and son. For the 90’s kids, it is Govinda’s Haseena Maan Jayegi. For good Screw-ball comedies example in Telugu you have Appu Chesi Pappukudu and Shavukaru from old archives. Just give a look if you think watching them can make your evening. Believe me, they will. Well, if you think I’m derailing from the topic, then that is what Ami Thumi does for 2 hours after initial minutes. One has to appreciate Indraganti’s penchant to break character to say “I’ll meet you after title credits“, such delights in a comedy have been missing after EVV Satyanarayana‘s demise. Even though he has great knowledge about film, he doesn’t come across as someone who really believes in innovation. He believes more in clichés and right from his first movie into commercial box office land, all he did is to make clichéd movies that start with delightful abstracts and then end up as same old classic dramas that we have been watching every other day.
Even his earlier movie Gentleman concentrates on being clichéd Baazigar rather than its own thriller. Either he is newly discovering those films or he highly believes that writing for a film is all about taking inspirations and delivering on the same line. Whatever that is, once again his Ami Thumi starts off with age old discussion of a father and his kids. For nth time, like many others he spoofs Swathi Muthyam, Swarna Kalam and other films. With a simple premise, Tenali of Kamal Hasan tries to innovate with each and every scene keeping us glued to the screen as the proceedings are delightfully over the top. There jokes never try to be apologetic for being a joke. There is dark comedy, there is slapstick, there are clichés too but to keep it simple, you really can’t imagine which will turn out to be a joke and how. Here you can smell ten jokes from a distance and three are attempted.
In those three, one land due to Vennela Kishore and two beg you to laugh as they are ‘jokes’. A clever word pun here, a silly submission there, a length hyperactive monologue by a character here and a slapstick style dance by another character there. This is the pattern of the screenplay here. You wonder if this is what you have to see, then what difference does this film offer other than all those pretentious ‘roller coaster‘ rides? Is there any innovation, you wait? At least is there any social issue discussion in a funny way that a Screw-ball comedy is all about? You are still waiting for something imaginative to happen after two hours and the real imagination strikes. A happy club song and a breaking news ticker appears. You’re told to wait to find out the life of a Chilipi character. Well, except for asking you to wait for 5 more minutes, it serves no purpose. You know how it will be and as it plays exactly the same way, you end up disappointed one more time. A comedy lives on innovation, unexpectedness and not on grammar.
Coming to performances, becoming the clear victim of typical Tollywood writing neither the lead couples nor the supporting cast were able to impress as desired. Story or plot never tries to immerse them into the narrative. It is like they’re guests in their own story while Sri Chilipi and Shyamala Devi‘s maid character takes up all the screen time. Yes, Adivi Sesh – Eesha & Srinivas Avasarala – Aditi look odd & interesting couple, but the film fails to take any advantage of the same due to its own faults. We see lack of inclusive screenplay through out in the wage of trying to impress someone trying to crack a joke, had it concentrated on inclusive ways to do so, even these odd couples would have made it interesting watch. In the supporting cast, we see cruel treatment given to Kedar Shankar – Madhumani’s characters whereas Tanikella is a delight to watch as always in any kind of given role. But the one person who scores maximum when it comes to performances remains, Vennela Kishore making a decent impact as over the top innocent Sri Chillipi. He imitates no one nor he is trying hard to impress. You don’t get a feeling that he feels an alien in this world. He owns it while on contrast everybody hams to death even someone like Ananth.
Musical score and cinematography are normally of decent standards in MKI’s films, but Ami Thumi is a letdown. They are barely functional over here. Although, the movie is just 124 minutes, it gives lengthy feel due to its uneven pace. The editor should have paced the movie better in the second half.
Ami Thumi is said to be a Screw-ball comedy. While it might be what the writer thought he attempted but it is definitely not that. It is not even a decent satire. It is a lousy attempt on poking fun at those parents who still believe in financial division. Well, as old as that divide is, even this movie comes up with old jokes that don’t land most of them and they just end up being plain irritating after a point. If you want to watch something for time pass in the genre of comedy try out some other film but this definitely doesn’t need your attention…