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Oh My Kadavule Movie Review: In some ways, Arjun (Ashok Selvan, lively), the protagonist of Oh My Kadavule, is quite different from the typical Tamil cinema hero. For one, unlike many a hero, he doesn’t fall in love with his female friend. This is Anu (Ritika Singh, effective). They have been friends since childhood, and in the very first scene, we see Anu telling him that she wants to marry him. He doesn’t respond immediately, but tells her he doesn’t have any reason to reject her, so he’s OK with them getting married. They do. But during their first night, when he tries to kiss her, he can only break into laughter, for he has never seen Anu as a romantic partner. They decide to let things happen on their own, but with Arjun hardly having any romantic feelings for Anu, the marriage becomes strained. Complicating matters is the re-entry of Meera (Vani Bhojan, making an assured big-screen debut), their former school senior and Arjun’s crush of sorts, into their lives. And just when he decides to part ways, there is divine intervention (the opening God’s Eye View shot is no accident), and Arjun gets a chance to do things differently. Will he woo Meera or learn to love Anu?
Unlike films where friends turn lovers, the friendship isn’t what is the source of conflict in Oh My Kadavule. There’s no dilemma over romance affecting the friendship, like in Piriyadha Varam Vendum or Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Instead, Ashwath Marimuthu tries to explore what might happen if two friends marry while one of them isn’t romantically attracted to the other. Even in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Shah Rukh Khan falls for Kajol only after he sees her feminine side, and not when she is a tomboy. But here, Anu is just Noodles Mandai to Arjun. So, during their first night, when he tries to kiss her, all he can do is break into laughter because he has never seen her in this light. It is not that Anu doesn’t understand his situation, but she sees him with Meera, her frustration turns into jealousy. Arjun has his own frustrations – Anu’s suspicions of Meera, and the job he has been forced to take up because of his marriage to her. He aspires to become an actor but at his workplace, run by Anu’s father (MS Bhaskar), he has to sit on toilet commodes to test their quality!
Ashwath gives us all these details in bits and pieces, with Arjun narrating these to the mysterious persons (Vijay Sethupathi and Ramesh Thilak) who are promising to fix his life. No prizes for guessing who these two really are. They turn the film into a Sliding Doors/12B-ish story, giving us an alternate version – what if Arjun had said no to Anu? These portions do have a somewhat conventional romantic drama quality to them, with the protagonist learning the hard way that the love of his life was always close at hand. But what makes it slightly different here is how Ashwath treats all his characters with dignity, and shows them in a different light to what we had seen them earlier.
Anu is never turned into an overbearing person. Right from the start, we see that she has feelings for Arjun. And take the case of Anu’s father. Though it is played for laughs, his decision to make Arjun do a job that he comes to hate seems high-handed to Arjun (and us) in the first half. But we get a rather moving explanation in the latter half, and MS Bhaskar sells this scene in an affecting way. Even Shiva Sha Ra’s character Mani (the actor, for once, isn’t grating but rather endearing), who is also a childhood friend of Arjun and Anu, gets a refined treatment. He seems like just another filmi friend – whose purpose is to provide comic relief – at first glance, but right in the opening stretch, that notion gets dispelled. We see him counselling Arjun to not divorce Anu. When she enters, he moves to be with her, and when Arjun tells him he is his friend, he shoots back that he is also her friend as well. It is this sensitivity that makes Oh My Kadavule refreshing.