Oh Baby: Immaturely Mature
Star Cast: Lakshmi, Rajendra Prasad, Samantha Akkineni, Rao Ramesh, Teja Sajja, and Pragathi
Music Composed by Mickey K Meyer
Cinematography by Richard Prasad
Film Editing by Junaid Siddiqui
The title Baby for a movie that has 70-year-old lady as a protagonist in itself says that the movie is about elderly who tend to become annoyingly loving, immaturely spoiling and spitting venom on others, to say the least, they would be behaving like Big Babies. They are expected to be understanding, satisfied, happy and content. But few go through so much at their prime that they spit out all that frustration in the form of venomous words, in a harsh tone, even though they mean to be good, even though they love, even though they care still we feel like they are clinging on few things too much and get frustrated that they fear too much. Again, like small babies.
We can say that humans grow old to learn so much that they prefer being babies and express without filter everything, while all their life they might have been too mature and silent. At the fag end, they seem to find more mistakes, they seem to be more worried, they seem to lack understanding at times and they seem to be too dependent on younger ones too. This film is all about that and it asks the elderly to understand how young perceive them, how middle-aged perceive them and how they can build bridge with next generations without letting themselves lose their respect.
At thematic level, it has all the above-mentioned elements but execution wise and writing-wise, movie is a mixed bag of hits and misses. *Spoiler Alert* In a scene where an old woman is really unable to understand what is going on in her life and where to go, we see God(s) changing the script for her and making her young. This sequence starts very smoothly with Brahma saying that her wishes will come true and her life will change. And continues with Vishnu making it happen. Ends with Shiva cryptically showing the path forward.
This is actually the key sequence where the story really changes and the real plot opens up. She became young physically but her brain is at 70 years of age. So, she keeps reacting to situations like a 70-year-old but she is a 24-year-old appearance-wise. She has to contemplate and accept this change. For this contemplation, we see an extra scene added immediately without proper set up for that one. We know that she is somewhere and she found a TV but we are not sure if it is an old age home or a psychiatrist hospital. We see random things and a voice in the TV talks to her, or it is implied in a very on the face way.
When you go and watch a movie like Buddimanthudu (1979), where one of the protagonists – a Poojari in a temple, suddenly is able to see Lord Krishna, after a head injury, we get very cryptic conversations between God and his devotee, where we are asked to either assume that he could really see or he was hallucinating all the time. In the end, he gets to a conclusion that God came to him to really teach a lesson about his wrong and old world beliefs while his brother tries to save him and many devotees believe that God exists. He understands that God exists through us but not for us.
In this film, the way Bapu narrates the story through visuals and the writing supports clever cryptic conversations, we don’t see a necessity for some scene to pop up and explain which tonally doesn’t belong there. When you start a scene implying that Brahma, the creator – perfect to his description from mythology, could really calm her down from all the emotional crisis, she is going through and Vishnu could make her explicitly wish it & grant it, the natural progression is for Shiva to become her Guru and again calm her down to ease so that she knows how to accept the new reality and move on. But as the director went for extreme interpretation of Shiva as Aghora only, we see a random scene with no proper explanation popping up like a lead to a music video from ’90s than the scene that belongs to this film and the universe, director Nandini Reddy created.
In a way, she is diabolical in her narrative. She wants to be subtle like Bapu, K. Vishwanath & Balachander while she also wants to be eccentric, in your face like Bharathiraja and also explore comedy like K. Raghavendra Rao’s lesser films and Kodi Ramakrishna’s regular films, in a slapstick manner. This shift for the sake of the scene as in ‘horses for courses‘, style narrative within the film doesn’t really let us settle into a rhythm or pace. We should accept that in one scene, characters will be slapstick and in another, they will be sensitive.
Actors like Rajendra Prasad, Lakshmi, Samantha, Rao Ramesh pulled off their characters like professionals but others couldn’t cope up. While they all look capable, they seem to be reacting to the scene requirement than really being their characters. Also, even professionals couldn’t really keep up with all the tonal shift demands and they get annoying in one scene and great in another. Narrative structure decides the end result of the film. It holds an audience interest throughout gives them satisfaction or it will leave them gasping, exhausted and completely disappointed. Nandini Reddy managed to achieve both in this film. And that spoils the film completely.
Also, her choice of art design, sound design, music director and even RR mixing was highly underwhelming. Editing too seems too random without settling into a pace. The sound designer might have wanted all the audiences to feel like 70-year-olds and RR mixer might have just increased volume to +12^5 db, which happens to be too loud that even makes the dialogues unclear. No wonder the elderly get too irritated and repetitive and loud. Richard Prasad‘s camera work is good but in few areas he could have been more creative as the scene seems to demand more than he delivered. But his visuals are really better than his previous works. Music by Mickey J Meyer is forgettable and except for Oh Baby nothing really works. Musical drama needed better songs and composer tried to go popular plus situational like integrating rock and jazz, which doesn’t gel well.
The film needed a far better script to showcase the theme of the film and deliver the punch correctly. This film doesn’t belong to Ala Modalaindi or Kalyana Vaibhogame kind of narrative where known subject is being said in a different way. The premise itself has many elements to explore and even though it aims to be a comedy, nobody said that comedies cannot be emotionally satisfing too. Movie takes itself seriously in one scene and becomes silly the next. A more competent form of narration and better script with better sound design, songs and art design, could have made it a film for ages. But it remains an attempt by Shami to be Bumrah and deliver big yorkers, only to miss and become a full toss. As actors could pull off some good catches of those full tosses at boundary line, the team is in winning position else….!