The film scores big time with its unconventional yet adept casting decisions and witty writing
Mahesh, a small-time LIC insurance agent, falls for Anitha, an independent woman. hailing from a rich business family, whom he meets during his spoken English classes. All hell breaks loose when Anitha shares the news about her love interest to her father. Except for Anitha's grandfather, no other family member in her household is keen on the alliance owing to Mahesh's financial status and modest appearance. Mahesh and Anitha's marriage coincides with the countrywide lockdown announced across the country, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. How will Mahesh handle the various tantrums posed by Anitha's family members?
Vivaha Bhojanambu is a lockdown comedy unfolding over an unlikely romance between two opposites - of varying socio-economic backgrounds, lifestyles and (societal standards of) beauty too. The family with higher societal status generally has an upper hand in the alliance and the film focuses on a father-in-law who can barely come to terms with his son-in-law's miserly ways, appearance and lifestyle. The backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, where the two families are confined to the same household, adds more situational relevance to the story. Director Ram Abbaraju chooses a premise ripe with comic potential, soul and barring occasional jerks, delivers a fun outing that has its heart at the right place.
Right from the first sequence, the film tackles a very obvious factor that families consider while choosing a prospective bride/bridegroom - appearance. Anitha's grandfather mistakes Mahesh to be a servant at his company, a beggar outside a shopping mall tells that Anitha and Mahesh are a mismatch and the guy's friend loosely says that the girl doesn't have great taste (referring to Mahesh's appearance). The film's entire conflict is built surrounding Mahesh's modest appearance, the insults that he has to fathom and the obvious class divide between the families of the bride and the bridegroom. Vivaha Bhojanambu uses this foundation to discuss issues surrounding identity, mutual respect and privilege as well.
Beyond the confrontation between the father-in-law and son-in-law, Ram Abbaraju and the writer Bhanu Bogavarapu showcase a knack to create quirky, cinematically appealing characters whose confrontations are a delight to watch. An aunt takes a jibe at Mahesh for not using cashew nuts in their upma and adding more water than milk in their chai. Another uncle who finds a way to take a dig at Mahesh's family, now and then, is put in his place because of his poor math skills. A father's weakness for sweets creates potentially awkward situations for the guy. An obnoxious ambulance driver keeps talking to the spirit of his lover on an overnight trip and causes trouble to the families.
The sharp observations of life at middle-class households - a leaking ceiling, the usage of age-old electronic appliances, the tendencies to bargain for anything and everything - help the setting come alive. A few of the lockdown jokes work too, particularly the sarcasm about beating the s**t out of steel plates to cheer medicos, the lighting of diyas in honour of their work and the funny references to real-life incidents where cops catch hold of citizens on the road. In the latter half, the film gets slightly tiring with a series of gags that neither evoke humour nor take the story forward. A purposeful climax, though verbose and too predictable, presents the film's gist well.
The film is an out and out Satya Akkala show and he's terrific at sustaining the never-say-die, underdog spirit of the character till the very end without compromising on his strengths as a comic actor. While Aarjavee's commendable performance is muddled amidst dubbing issues, Srikanth Iyengar makes complete use of a full-length role of a classist father overly concerned about his daughter. There are fantastic cameos all along - from an authoritative Subbaraya Sharma to a witty Sivannarayana to the late TNR and a super-spontaneous Madhumani. Team Vivaha Bhojanambu, instead of choosing heavyweights, has purely gone by merit with a strong cast filled with enthusiastic performers. Surprisingly, it's Sundeep Kishan's sequence that doesn't quite generate the sparks it was expected to.
Vivaha Bhojanambu is a largely delightful, light-hearted look at the woes of a newly married couple amidst the pandemic. The film goes overboard with the funny one-liners and the confrontations in the second hour but Ram Abbaraju's purposeful story steers the ship.