Oka Manasu Reviewby MyMazaa.com
Rama Raju's first film ('Mallela Theeram Lo Sirimalle Puvvu') and second film (the present one) have certain striking similarities. They both are conversational love stories. They both celebrate pure love. They both place the pure-hearted lovers in the context of a cynical world. The lovers have no malice, but one or both of them is constantly mocked at by circumstances. In 'Mallela Theeram..', the guileless but rebellious wife found her man outside of marriage, but she had to endure before finding a way out of an accidental marriage. In 'Oka Manasu', the lover boy is pure at heart, but he is embroiled in a clumsy situation from where he doesn't have a way out.
Surya (Naga Shourya) is the son of a senior political activist (Rao Ramesh puts up yet another subtle act) and he sees his father's aim - of being an MLA one day. Sandhya (Niharika Konidela, a fine debutante), is a doctor who falls in love with Surya at first sight. Their love stories takes off smoothly, but is interrupted when a 'dandha' goes wrong and Surya is slapped with serious charges as per the SC/ST Atrocities Act. She bides her time as her love is always for him.
After coming out of jail serving as an under-trial for three years, Surya can't decide whether to let Sandhya go. The girl is still deep in love, but her man's future is a question mark as he stares at a probable 10-year jail term.
A conversational love story, the film essentially is about how Surya and Sandhya spend their time together. As they go through the vicissitudes of life, the lovers iterate and re-iterate their love toward each other in poetic, profound conversations. Their conversations make the audience wonder if one of them or both will have to make a sacrifice. Surya's dilemma and hopelessness are in sharp contrast to Sandhya's firmness and hopefulness. Yet, paradoxically, it's she who asks her man, 'Idantha nammoccha, Surya?' when all decks seem to have been cleared for their wedding.
As they face uncertainty, which may or may not be temporary, the lovers find relief in making a promise to each other, and through a tight embrace of each other.
The story of the father-son duo is narrated in parallel. From day-dreaming about seeing his son as an MLA, Rao Ramesh's character falls into despair. In this story, the depraved state of politics is touched upon in terms of how it affects Surya's life. Surya has to redeem Sandhya and his father, whom he loves as much as he loves her. Will the contradictory demands ever be reconciled? How many more conversations does it take for the love birds to decide their moves? Will they part ways? Or will they be in tight embrace forever? That forms the crux of the climax.
'Oka Manasu' is surely not for those who can't stand anything other than the formulaic. It's a mature and conversational genre, but it's not stylized by the performances of a Samantha-Naga Chaitanya duo or the BGM of an AR Rahman. Everything from the costumes to the Araku backdrop has a ring of old-worldly charm (but not melodrama) about it. If you are someone who likes heroism come what may, avoid this. If you are someone who will empathize with Surya's impotent rage, go for it. If you are someone who can't think of a heroine who doesn't scream in excitement or frustration, avoid this. If you are someone who wants to watch Sandhya derive little pleasure by touching her boy friend's dad, watch this. Meanwhile, don't even ask for comedy, much less a comedy track.
One feels the second half moves at a snail's pace. This despite the fact that tempestuous happenings in the hero's life are told simultaneously along with the love story.
Rama Raju's dialogues are a major highlight: Lines like 'Rajakeeyallo unde kick amayilo kooda undadu.. Ayina nuvvu vere ammayi', 'Maarpu kalaniki undhi - Premaki undha?' (interval bang's million dollar question), 'Vaadi poyina poovulo anubhavalu untayai' are some of the examples.
Debutante Niharika gives a very good performance. She shows pain without crying, she betrays happiness without smiling too much. An understated performance, in short. Naga Shourya gets one more opportunity to deliver a dekko. While he is convincing in the role of a serious-looking (sometimes, even glum-looking) guy, his character starts looking uni-dimensional after a while - something that is a flaw in the script. Rao Ramesh is once again fabulous. Avasarala Srinivas is convincing Nagineedu and Pragathi pass muster.
Sunil Kashyap's songs are neatly interspersed with the story. Iru Kannulalo and the title track stand out. Ram Reddy's cinematography captures the picturesque locales and the lead pair beautifully.
Verdict: A mature, conversational love story. Profound. The slow pace of the second half can be forgiven. Dialogues are hard-hitting, heart-rending or poetic.