High-flying cardiologist Sri Hari has everything going for him on the professional front, but love eludes him. Can he mend his broken heart?
Story: Sri Hari is in love with his classmate Sherlyn Pinto; he knows the odds are stacked against him, starting with religion. But can love overcome it all and help them find their happily-ever-after?
Review: Last evening, there was a premiere screening of Prem’s milestone 25thfilm, Premam Poojyam. It took me two hours to get to the venue in Bengaluru traffic that was made worse by the rainy weather, another three hours to watch the film and, thankfully, a shorter return journey that I spent thinking how to pan this film. I had, after all, just wasted 6-7 hours, at the end of which I was wondering whether to laugh or cry at the sheer absurdity onscreen. For what it’s worth, I learnt a new word – Takotsubo.
For starters, I wasn’t exactly sure where the film was set. It opens with Prem as a high-flying cardiologist at SSNMC, which, if you are a Bengalurean, you know is in Rajarajeshwari Nagar. It is also the hospital of millionaire BR Shetty, who has been at the center of a controversy involving money. But hey, that’s immaterial here; we are here to talk about Premam Poojyam, which I wish we didn’t have to. The medical college and hostel are apparently only a short drive away from the hospital he works at, even though the heroine is supposedly from the Malnad region and is a day-scholar.
Anyway, Dr Sri Hari gets a referral consult of an epilepsy patient, played by Aindrita Ray, who has been struggling with palpitations. This scene sets the tone for the rest of what is to follow. Aindrita, in one of the two-and-a-half scenes she has, has a ‘consultation’ that involved her asking him what his degree DM stood for and how long it took him to get there. So much for figuring out patient history and other diagnostics to determine the cause of the palpitations.
As she walks out, with a prescription, he decides he has to look at a mysterious diary in his desk drawer that he just as quickly hides away when she barges back in. If Dr Sri Hari has something to hide, it has to be uncovered, right, so off goes Aindrita back into his cabin and sneaks out with said book, which as it turns out is an account of his ‘pure’ love. Ahem! Why was this in the office, when Dr Sri Hari has a beautiful home? Beats me!
But well, as she reads his rags-to-riches story from being a poor farmer’s son whose dream to pursue medicine studies almost didn’t take off because they couldn’t afford it, to finding love on campus, and becoming a cardiologist with, quite literally, a big heart, we see it all.
Premam Poojyam is a film made by medical practitioners; director Dr Raghavendra BS is a neurologist, while one of the producers Rakshith Kedambadi is also a doctor. So, Prem as Dr Sri Hari not only spouts a lot of medical jargon, but performs some procedures too, which may just be authentic portrayals; the makers would know, I guess. And yet, they decide to show a medical college with a sum total of 10 students, maybe and some feeble attempts at showing actual medical studies. There’s also the forced comedy track featuring Sadhu Kokila, who has been a student for so long that he can’t remember his batch anymore. Funnily enough, it is Prem who gets the most laugh-worthy line the film, which involves his expertise in astrology. Anyway, so, Sadhu has been there long enough that his former classmates have kids old enough to be his classmates now. Is that even allowed? Also, why is a cardiologist called in when Aindrita suffers an epileptic seizure?
What is also astounding is Prem’s wardrobe while in medical college. His humble background is thrown right out of the window, as the actor is kitted out in designer bests. It is sort of explained away with roommate Sadhu as ‘Thalaiva’, getting him truckloads of clothes as a birthday gift and that Prem himself can afford it on his stipend as a medical student. Well, a doctor friend tells me that a stipend kicks in only after the final year MBBS exam, during the internship, so the timing in the film maybe a bit off.
But the biggest downer is the love story itself. Debutant Brinda Acharya is pretty, but not a stunner to warrant Prem’s love-at-first sight reaction. Her character is not even written as the smartest. I guess love is blind, after all.
If you ask if there is anything that works for Premam Poojyam, it’s the cinematography. The film has been beautifully shot, most evident in the songs; oh, did I tell you that there is a dozen of those? In the run-up to the release of the film, Prem had spoken at length about his different looks in the film and how time consuming that process was. Huhm! There was a time when actors would go to extreme lengths to bring in physical transformations, or even rely on prosthetics to get the desired effect. Here, the actor’s facial fuzz and hair cuts are the only indicators of change. Having said that, I must add that the only solace here is that Prem looks good on screen. What was also refreshing was that his character was not written as ultra-macho, and is a hero who does not mind crying his heart out.
Verdict: Wait for Premam Poojyam to hit an OTT platform; it will at least allow you to fast forward the songs. This is not the best spent three hours; I had to, you don’t.