The entertainer is aided by a smart screenplay and an equally capable lineup of actors
Abhinay is a junior artiste in the film industry, much to the disappointment of his father Somasekhar. While Abhi awaits the right opportunity to make it big, he falls in love with a businesswoman Likitha. His destiny takes a new turn when Likitha offers him a key position in her company. Later, when Abhi’s former acquaintance promises to make a film with him, he gives up his job. Where’s his tale headed?
‘To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it,’ Charlie Chaplin famously said once and now Vakkantham Vamsi has made a film out of it. Abhinay, a junior artist in Extra Ordinary Man, is always lurking in the background, is the butt of all ridicule when his career hardly takes off. His cousin ditches him to marry another man, a director dumps him from a dream project at the last minute.
The director doesn’t call this destiny/karma but names this ‘maisamma’ (referring to the almighty) - she has a better ‘screenplay’ in store for Abhinay. Much like director Kalyan Shankar’s MAD, the film uses tricky, dramatic situations in Abhi’s life and reimagines as comedy sequences. Even when his father consciously insults Abhi, he views it as an opportunity to rehearse for an ‘emotional’ scene.
The fact that the protagonist belongs to the film industry gives the director the liberty to play around pop-culture references. From Vijay Deverakonda’s love life to Balakrishna’s slap-gate incidents to Dil Raju’s famous ‘Dance Venuma’ speech, Naresh-Pavitra Lokesh’s marriage and Pushpa’s Taggede Le, Extra Ordinary Man milks every opportunity to incorporate ‘filmi’ humour into the screenplay.
And then there are Trivikram-styled one liners too - like ‘Mohanty..Moham Thee’, ‘Pilisthe Raavu..Anand Rao.’ Much to the director’s credit, the ‘packaging’ doesn’t look forced. The humour in the film is both situational and verbal and the director is aided by a cast that has the right spontaneity to pull it off. The change in the film’s tone leading to the interval, from hilarity to heroism, is seamless.
While Abhinay preps for his dream role, the director comes up with a juicy sub-plot to build the conflict. The backdrop in the second hour shifts to a village around the AP-Odisha border, revolving around ego clashes between a fake cop and a crooked business baron. Even if there’s heroism in Abhi’s saviour-act to rescue villagers, the screenplay makes it look coincidental and doesn’t make a messiah out of him.
Beyond a point though, the gags around the industry and the self-demeaning humour get tiring. The laughs dry up but the heroine keeps arriving in time for the ‘song-dance’ routine. It’s with Rajasekhar’s special appearance (was Jailer an inspiration?) that the ‘eventful’ screenplay finds its mojo again. Later, Vakkantham Vamsi takes the Race Gurram-style no-brainer path to finish the proceedings in style.
Although Vakkantham Vamsi’s intent is to only make a funny film, his experience as a writer comes to the fore with his deft treatment of the subplots and the tonal changes. Extra Ordinary Man is a wacky coming-of-age story of a film aspirant with enough commercial ingredients and has the right blend of humour, heroism, romance and peppy music.
Nithiin lends just the right amount of lightness to play his role and it’s a relief to see a protagonist who doesn’t take himself too seriously. Sreeleela’s role has its limitations, but the film exploits her strengths with comedy and dance well. Rajasekhar is fabulously sportive in an extended cameo, making good use of his ‘angry cop’ image. Rohini and Rao Ramesh get meaty roles and display their knack for humour
Sampath Raj moves beyond the staple villain and father roles and enjoys playing the hammy Selvamani. The supporting cast is a riot - Hyper Aadi, Harshavardhan, Brahmaji pack a punch at crucial junctures. Sudhev Nair, after Tiger Nageswara Rao, gets a one-note villain role, though it’s hard to decode the value he brings as a performer.
Though Extra Ordinary Man may not be Harris Jayaraj’s best, it’s interesting to see the composer try his hand at a slapstick commercial film. Danger Pilla is the pick of the lot in the album. Despite the complexity in the plot, the narrative is edited, simplified well for the layman and the cinematography has the right finesse to drive the plot forward.
Extra Ordinary Man is an irreverent, hilarious ode to cinema. Vakkantham Vamsi chooses an entertaining, ‘lightweight’ script for his second directorial, playing to the strengths of his capable cast.