google playGoogle
app storeiOS
settings icon
profile icon

Made in China movie review: This tale of despair in times of Covid is rather depressing

Nagabhushana’s film has a somber mood about it.

  • Prathibha Joy

Last Updated: 02.01 PM, Jun 17, 2022

Made in China movie review: This tale of despair in times of Covid is rather depressing
Nagabhushan and Priyanka Thimmesh in Made in China

Story: In Wuhan, China, on work, Abhiram Shastry (Nagabhushana) gets literally stuck in the epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic, when he is declared a primary contact of a patient and sealed in, in his tiny one-room apartment, on the day he was to fly back to India on the Vande Bharath Mission. If the few months of living alone far away from home were not bad enough, Abhiram is locked up with no groceries or extra cigarettes, for that matter. The mandatory 14-day quarantine could not have come at a worse time, because Abhiram’s wife Mythili is heavily-pregnant and counting down to the birth of their firstborn.

Review: The only show of Nagabhushana’s Made in China at the nearby multiplex had a sum total of eight people in attendance at the start. Well before the interval, there were only four left. The others, I’m guessing, thought that it was a comedy and left disappointed. They can’t really be blamed because Made in China is a truly depressing movie. And that is not only because of its content, but overall look and feel and the lacklustre performances too.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been hard on most of us, no doubt. But after more than two years of living with it and overcoming one of its worst waves, we’ve all had enough and have sprung back resilient. Life is almost back to normal. And then, along comes a film that is meant to remind us of how bad life was not long ago. Who’d want that?

Cinematographer-director Preetham Tegginamane was apparently inspired by the Malayalam film C U Soon and decided to make Kannada cinema’s own virtual movie. The treatment is pretty much the same with much of the ‘action’ taking place over the virtual communications of the lead pair, Nagabhushana and Priyanka, so, it’s made to look like screen recordings. The problem with that is that on the big screen, when the focus is on Abhiram (Nagabhushana) listening to his wife, much of the frame is Mythili’s (Priyanka) bust and pregnant stomach. The film was apparently intended for OTT but given a theatrical outing. I am not sure if it would have made a difference on a smaller screen, but here it wasn’t pleasant

The biggest problem with Made in China is its perpetually depressing tone. Abhiram is in China because he and his buddy have decided to strike it out on their own as entrepreneurs and even when their venture is set to take off, they don’t seem to be proud of their achievement, with much of the conversation veering towards how no one thought they could pull it off. Even when Abhiram thanks Mythili for believing in him and letting him take off to China for this venture, there’s no excitement in his voice.

And then, when he’s locked in for 14 days, all hell breaks loose; Abhiram can’t take it anymore, so much so that he even contemplates taking a very drastic step. Better sense prevails in the end, although one cannot really say in the nick of time. There’s some weird drama in the climax and all’s well in the end. That’s the problem – the filmmaker touches upon mental health and leaves it as a loose end.

One plot point that they could have explored better was the neighbour from above, who sends Abhiram food (even redoing a dish after finding out he’s vegetarian) via a basket hanging out the window. Someone who fed Abhiram during his 14-day ordeal deserved a better representation. There is none, not even a voice; just a few perfunctory notes exchanged between them.

As for the performances, well, Priyanka cannot be faulted – she does her best to the little that’s asked of her. Nagabhushana, though, could have done a lot better. His lacklustre portrayal of Abhiram is perhaps why one does not feel for the character even at the height of his despair.

Verdict: The film is under two hours in run-time, but still too long for such a wafer-thin premise. Wait for Made in China to drop on OTT when it does. And then feel free to skip 10-20 secs (as the platform allows) every now and then to speed up the proceedings. The only bright point of the film is the song Dhoora Dhoora in Siddhartha Belmannu and Shaktishree Gopalan’s voices. And that you can listen to on Youtube.