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Atithi Devo Bhava review: A supposedly sensitive drama that turns out to be an unintentional comedy

The director Polimera Nageshwar and writers can't even distinguish between phobia and a medical condition in this intolerable Aadi Sai Kumar, Nuveksha starrer

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  • Srivathsan Nadadhur

  • OTTplay

Last Updated: 07.57 AM, Jan 07, 2022

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Story:

Abhay Ram, a youngster, who loses his father early in life, is extremely attached to his mother. Right during his childhood, he experiences monophobia, the fear of loneliness that takes a huge toll on his self-esteem. He grows to be a CEO of a corporate firm, but his fears continue to wreck his life. He's smitten by a girl Vaishnavi and floored by her empathetic ways. The girl reciprocates his love almost instantly. Just when their relationship seems to be heading towards marriage, Abhay's worst fears come true. Do Abhay and Vaishnavi have a happy ending in store?

Review:

Nani-starrer Bhale Bhale Magadivoy, a romantic comedy revolving around the lead character's forgetfulness, was an unlikely trendsetter in Telugu cinema, resulting in a wave of films where the stories used the protagonist's insecurities, medical conditions and fears to generate humour. Just when you felt that the trend was over for good, Aadi Sai Kumar's latest release proves otherwise. The lead here is a victim of monophobia, though this film neither turns out to be a comedy nor a drama. 

The writers just don't know how to build the story beyond him and his weakness. A basic need for films dealing with a story around a disorder or a fear is sensitivity. When Abhay hides his fears from his friends, worried they'll ridicule him, you expect this to be a drama about the character overcoming his inner demons and taking charge of his life. Probably, the writers too set out to do that but end up dishing out a miserable film that offers little respite.

When a youngster's biggest curse is his loneliness, you expect interesting situations where he needs to rise above his fears. The only conflict in the film is Abhay's decision to keep his phobia a secret from his future partner and the price he needs to pay for it. No human is beyond fears, but the film exaggerates monophobia as if it's a terminal disease that the hero can't escape from. The subplot around the girl's father experiencing frequent health issues is pointlessly linked to Abhay's scenario. 

The film is stuck in a different timeline altogether. A fight sequence alone is enough for the guy to win over the girl; she is almost a dummy creature waiting all her life for his presence. There are ridiculous dreamy duets in foreign locations even before the two have a word with one another. The guy wants a partner who treats him like her mother while the girl desires a man who cares for her like a father - can this get more incestuous? Atithi Devobhava is about a simple misunderstanding and a resolution stretched into a 140-minute odd narrative.

During a phase when Aadi is trying to find his feet in the industry desperately, Atithi Devo Bhava is a very poor choice. There's absolutely no scope for him to perform and one just can't care for the bizarre plot more than the initial hour. Nuveksha, like any quintessential heroine, is asked to be a cute doll minus any brain or work and whose only job is to fall for the hero. Rohini's role shares similarities with her character in Ala Modalaindi, but a film like Atithi Devobhava won't even qualify as net practice for the veteran. 

Saptagiri's forced comedy track doesn't provide any laughs. The sequences between Aadi, Saptagiri and a thief are bizarre, to put it mildly. The humour around a bald middle-aged man who's under the control of his wife is cheap at best. Aadarsh Balakrishna has very little to offer in a blink-and-a-miss role. The supporting cast is strictly okay. The dialogues feel like a bunch of stock one-liners borrowed from many films sans any emotion or originality. Sekhar Chandra's song Baguntundi Nuvvu Navvithe is the film's only silver lining.

Verdict:

Maintain social distancing from Atithi Devo Bhava. It belongs to a category of films less tolerable than other viruses out there. The film is about a protagonist trying to overcome his fear of loneliness, but it's the viewer who experiences it more, sitting in the (empty) theatres (than the hero).


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