January 22nd, 2021
Cinematography: Sameer Reddy
In today's throwback review, we'll be talking about an all time classic from the iconic wroter director combo of Trivikram Srinivas and K Vijaya Shankar in the form of Manmadhudu. Released on December 20th 2002, this romantic comedy has managed to last the test of time and marks it's place in the list of most rewatchable Telugu movies of all time. There's a saying that goes yenni saarlu choosina bore kottadu (no matter how many times you watch it, you don't get bored). Starring Akkineni Nagarjuna and Sonali Bendre, let's take a look at all the components of what makes it so good.
When Abhiram (Nagarjuna) a hardcore misogynist meets Harika (Sonali Bendre), he's forced to work with and interact with all the things he hates in this world: Women.
Akkineni Nagarjuna is amazing as Abhiram. His comic timing, screen presence, and everlasting charisma dominates the film from start to finish and he embodies the character to perfection. It will always remains one of his career best performances. Special mention needs to be made for his comic timing in the film as Vijaya Bhaskar's direction ably supports Trivikram's razor sharp punches the entire film and the result is a hilarious situation almost every time.
Sonali Bendre is fantastic as Harika. Her ability to emote all the needed emotions and her incredible screen presence add a lot of value to the film. In fact it's Harika's character that you feel the most for in the entire movie whenever Abhiram is being a dick to her or during the climax portions. Her character is good personified and it remains her best role in Telugu as well. Her voice dubbing by popular singer Sunitha was perfect.
Anshu brings the required innocence to the role of Maheshwari and provides the crucial emotional component of the flashback. She is perfect with Nagarjuna in the classic song Gundello Emundo shot in Switzerland.
Brahmandham brings the house down with his classic role as Suribabu Lavangam, an NRI trapped in France by his African wife. The scenes with the shoes and the iconic Oh Saaho Oh Saaho have stayed with us to this day along with the dialogue: They Paid NO? Cue the BGM lmao. He is an absolute laugh riot once again and proves that Vijaya Bhaskar is one of the few directors who knew how to use him to the fullest potential.
Dharmavarupu Subramanyam is equally as funny as a dude who sell secret mike equipment. The interview scene on TV and the meeting with Nagarjuna on the roof are hysterical. The veteran comedian kills it with his comic timing as usual.
Tanikella Bharani has a justified role as Abhiram's uncle and is a staple in Vijaya Bhaskar films. Sunil does a very entertaining role as a bipolar brother in law for Sonali Bendre. His scenes are hilarious. Chandramohan gets another dignified role that only he could play. The plight and emotion he plays the character with is why we have gotten to love him so much over the years.
Direction by K Vijaya Bhaskar is literally perfect. The screenplay moves at a pace when you don't even look at the clock. It's one thing to make an entertaining film and another thing to make a film where it feels like time flies. Manmadhudu is the latter. You will have zero complaints as the first half and second half are equally as good as each other and the screenplay moves at a breakneck speed the entire time. The only downside of the movie is that after such lighthearted and breezy entertainment for 2 hours, the film becomes a tad serious towards the pre climax and climax portions. However, this is a minor complaint and an inconsequential one if anything in an otherwise perfect film.
Music by Devi Sri Prasad is a masterpiece. This is easily the album that made him a superstar and the household name that he still is today. Each and every song is fantastic and he is ably supported by the excellent lyrics of Sirivennela Sitharama Sastry (5 songs) and Bhuvanachandra (Andhamaina Bhamalu). All of them are well shot and perfectly placed as well.
Dialogues by Trivikram Srinivas are the hallmark of this movie. Vijaya Bhaskar movies are known for their entertainment and "clean comedy" which we are missing a lot nowadays. Be it any dialogue, Trivikram hits it out of the park. His razor sharp writing is the reason for the majority of the comedy in the movie as most of the scenes are absolutley hysterical. The punches that the character gives to each other are very funny and full credit goes to Trivikram for creating such hilarious scenes that we still cherish and enjoy today.
Cinematography by Sameer Reddy is sublime. While there are not many incredible shots, the simplistic angles and color palette for each scene provides a visual feast and a film that's pleasant to look at. Almost every scene takes place during the day and there is ample amount of bright colors used throughout the film.
Editing by Sreekar Prasad is perfect. The movie never has any lag and moves at an incredible pace. Art Direction by Srinivasu Raju is excellent. The office set is stunningly recreated and reminds everybody of a real office floor. The sets for the songs are well designed as well and nicely constructed. The one fight in the film is well placed and choreographed. Production Values by Annapurna Studios are extravagant and grand.
Throwback reviews are perhaps the only form of time travel to express our thoughts about the films that shaped our lives and childhoods and would go onto define our love for Telugu cinema over the years. Manmadhudu is one such film.
Being one of the films released in 2002, it was a glorious year for Telugu cinema. Just to take you back the list of films released include (but are not limited to): Takkari Donga with Mahesh Babu, Nuvvu Leka Nenu Lenu (blockbuster), Jr NTR's iconic blockbuster Aadi, the underrated Vasu with Venkatesh, Santosham another Nagarjuna classic, Allari Naresh's debut Allari, Teja's blockbuster Jayam, Industry Hit Indra with an all time classic album, Raviteja's classic Idiot, Sreenu Vaitla's Sontham, Balayya's Chennakesava Reddy, Prabhas's debut movie Eeswar, and Krishna Vamsi's Khadgam.
In a year with so many memorable movies, Manmadhudu happened to be the last notable movie of the year and is arguably along with Indra, the best movie that ever released that year.
There's not much to analyze but the first half is amazing with hilarious comedy and the flashback. Interval bang is also very funny. The second half is equally as good and the icing on the cake is Brahmi as Suribabu Lavangam and the Oh Saaho comedy track.
With the classic songs, excellent story, iconic dialogues and comedy scenes, flawless direction, superb editing, vibrant cinematography along with Nagarjuna, Sonali Bendre, Brahmanadham and Dharmavarupu, Manmadhudhu is an all time classic that will stay with us forever.