Most Eligible Bachelor Review: An average rom-com that has a wafer-thin point to make
Cast: Akhil Akkineni, Pooja Hegde, Murali Sharma and others
Director: 'Bommarillu' Baskar
In too many romantic comedies made down South, the female lead is usually incapable of original thinking. She is ready to be mesmerized by the male lead's life-changing monologue or philosophy (?) at the first opportunity. In 'Most Eligible Bachelor', the time-tested ritual is ignored, at least for a while. For a change, Harsha (Akhil Akkineni as an NRI with a successful career) is confused and ready to be brainwashed by Vibha (Pooja Hegde), a stand-up comic who is proud that her thinking is supposedly unorthodox. What follows from this premise is a relationship drama that is a mix of genuine emotions and unmixed farce.
Writer-director Baskar, whose debut movie 'Bommarillu' (2006) is a classic, deals the family scenes like a joke. Harsha's elders behave as though they are in a reality show, tasked with marrying off the male lead before a deadline fixed by some Bigg Boss. They don't have the time to sit and figure out what is going on in Harsha's mind. They always move in hordes, appearing in all sorts of odd places to prevent Harsha from finding what he wants.
The characters have to literally claim that they are tensed every minute for the audience to actually believe that there is a conflict plot point in the story. The real conflict exists in Harsha's mind, which has been rendered incapable of any thinking by Vibha's vague references to terms like 'romance'. What she wants is pretty straightforward and can be expressed over a cup of coffee. But since she is a stand-up comic and has to appear nonconformist, she talks in muddled language and ends up looking bizarre.
At one point, the drama becomes so crackpot that a deliberately silly court scene ensues because Harsha doesn't know how to talk with women. The film spends at least one hour convincing us that Harsha is childish. Later, the narrative makes a U-Turn and shows him flooring a business partner by talking about what coffee is all about. Suddenly, Harsha narrates a profound story to Vibha, who is by now happily reduced to a damsel needing relationship 'gyaan' from the hero.
"He who can't think originally is truly blind." Who would you trust to speak a line like this one? A boring motivational guru? In 'MEB', such WhatsApp-y lines are part of a stand-up gig. At one point, the stand-up comic launches herself into a sentimental monologue on, well, the true content of a meaningful relationship. Yes, people pay to listen to her speeches that are passed off for comedy.
While the premise is wafer-thin and the relationship drama lacks depth, 'MEB' is saved by the songs. We marvel at Gopi Sundar's knack for producing songs such as 'Guche Gulabi', 'Chitti Adugu' and 'Leharaayi. While Avinash Kolla's production design is not unique, Pradeesh M Varma's cinematography is good enough.
A demerit is that the performances are inadequate, barring the lead actors' output. Akhil is measured and delivers a restrained performance. Pooja Hegde is definitely a plus and looks awesome. Murali Sharma, as Vibha's rigid father, could have been better. Vennela Kishore is good in the brief part that he gets. The rest of the cast, ranging from Jayaprakash to Ajay, Pragathi and Aamani, is bland.