Director Jonathan Edwards, exploring a small town boy’s tryst with corporate life, finds the right balance between innocence and sensitivity
Arun Kumar Mundha is an Amalapuram native, who refuses a low-paying job in his hometown and opts to intern in a corporate firm in Hyderabad. From handling clumsy roommates to experiencing a disconnect with urban life and dealing with the challenges of the corporate sector, he finds the going tough. Will he strike a balance between his personal and professional lives?
Arthamayyindha Arun Kumar, the Telugu adaptation of the Hindi show Official Chukyagiri, is a low-stakes corporate drama tailormade for OTT viewing. Centring on a small-town boy’s tryst with the corporate sector in a metropolis, it manages to be a bitter-sweet coming-of-age tale, exploring workplace politics, work-life balance and heartbreak.
While retaining the innocence and the charm of the ambience, the show doesn’t sugarcoat the proceedings beyond necessity, touching upon the grey areas of its protagonists when needed. Expectedly, the writers take a few fictional liberties in capturing the interpersonal relationships and the hustle and bustle of corporate life. Some work and some don’t, but entertainment is guaranteed!
The characters that constitute Arun Kumar’s worklife are relatable - a soothsayer-like friendly peon, a PubG-obsessed receptionist, an egoistic male superior, an attractive female colleague and a hot-bitchy boss. His equations with the characters take several twists and turns in his stint and the life-lessons help his transformation from a naive boy to an aware young man.
The protagonist’s ‘small town vs big city’ struggles are intentionally simplistic but the show scores with the lighthearted, breezy treatment. The little details contribute to its charm - be it Arun’s desperation to prove himself initially in the firm or his discussions on the peculiarities of the Amalapuram slang with Pallavi, their tender romance or how Arun misuses his newfound urban independence.
The setting comes alive due to apt casting, impressive performances and clearheaded, uncomplicated screenwriting. The show-creators are aware of their elastic across each of the threads and the tight-packaging helps it progress seamlessly. The five episodes wrap up in just under 100 minutes and pave the way for a new season.
The show isn’t without its overly cheesy moments - getting Arun to serve tea to all the employees on his first day appears too far-fetched. The over-simplification of empowerment and feminism through Arun’s backstory on his mother doesn’t make the cut. The wordplay surrounding ‘Arun Kumar Mundha’ gets repetitive beyond a point. The happy ending where he gets a fat pay cheque from his boss looks too easy and convenient.
Director Jonathan Edwards, with this show, continues his good run in the OTT space after The Baker and the Beauty. Though Arthamayyinda Arun Kumar, in comparison, falls short in terms of nuance, his sensibilities come to his rescue. He is aware of pop-culture trends, the little flourishes that hold a story together, keeps his storytelling focused and displays good technical finesse.
In both his digital outings, despite not writing the stories, the director has adapted the original well, brought conviction and class to the material. The casting is another asset. Harshith Reddy (yet again after Mail, Taragathi Gadhi Daati) plays the small-town boy with the right measure of innocence and likability and is equally at ease in the light-hearted, vulnerable moments. 30 Weds 21 girl Ananya Sharma holds her own in an assured, dignified OTT debut.
The major surprise comes from Tejaswi Madivada. With her attractive screen presence and her no-nonsense persona, she fits the part of an ambitious, unapologetic corporate employee to a T. Vasu Inturi as the ‘kaka’ of the company makes his presence felt. Jai Praveen is another impressive find in the show, though his characterisation is rather amateurish.
Writer Kittu Vissapragada’s effective adaptation, key changes provide a solid foundation for the execution. Ajay Arasada’s chirpy background score, cinematographer Amaradeep Guttala’s lively framing and aesthetic sense add value to the show.
Arthamayyindha Arun Kumar is just the feel-good, breezy coming-of-age tale you’ll need to kill time on a lazy evening this monsoon. All the three lead actors - Harshith Reddy, Ananya Sharma, Tejaswi Madivada - come up with solid performances in a show that Jonathan Edwards adapts and directs with assurance.