This mildly entertaining drama is just too predictable

Amma I Love You review Too much mother sentiment too little originality
Flix Sandalwood Saturday, June 16, 2018 - 10:33

What if all the money in the world couldn’t buy you the one thing you need? Would you be able to walk away from all that wealth for the sake of that one unattainable wish?

In Amma I Love You, it’s a mother’s life that hangs in balance, forcing Siddharth (Chiranjeevi Sarja) to live the life of a beggar for 48 days. A man who could buy the world served on a silver platter is suddenly reduced to begging for his next meal. How far will he go to save his mother? And what will he learn along the way? These are the questions that this faithful adaptation of the Tamil hit Pichaikkaran is ostensibly discussing.

However, it’s the first question that the film is most obsessed with, laying on the “mother sentiment” thickly right from the title sequence. So, as the cast and crew are introduced in photographs with their mothers, a voice-over talks about how mothers are cooks, cleaners, launderers, and so on, all rolled into one. It goes on to describe passionately just how much mothers do for their children and families every day. But, of course! It’s too much trouble to make the lives of mothers easier by creating a gender-equal house, and so, the next best thing is a family tribute.

Sithara is introduced to us as the mother who can do no wrong, whose nobility and generosity would put even Mother Teresa to shame. So it’s no surprise that Siddharth is willing to live in abject poverty to save her.

Unfortunately, though, Siddharth’s experience isn’t a genuine journey of discovery of how the other side lives, so much as a poor-cation, a temporary jaunt into this "exotic" world of poverty. So, in the middle of this trying ordeal, Siddharth still has the time to go off and be a chef at a pizza parlour, fall in love, and fight dozens of baddies much like any of our other middle class heroes would. Even becoming poor comes easily to this rich man for whom the world is an oyster. It’s only his personal pride that initially gets in the way of his riches-to-rags journey. Once he makes up his mind though, he quickly morphs into an expert beggar, easily wins over friends among his fellow mendicants, and almost breezes through his 48-day “ordeal”.

Meanwhile, what most catches your attention is just how much scorn all the other characters in the film have for beggars. The villain’s henchmen, for instance, are ashamed about being beaten up by a beggar. Siddharth’s new girlfriend Bindu (Nishvika Naidu) deletes a selfie of the two of them because there’s a beggar in the background. And even when Siddharth himself rises up to defend his fellow beggars from middle-class scorn, his words drip with condescension and pity.

That’s because Siddharth’s experience isn’t really a genuine journey into lives completely different from his own, it’s just a chance to prove how dedicated he is to his mother. As Sithara’s character remarks unknowingly at one point of the film, the desperate lives that they (the begging poor) live is not something “we” could live even for a day. By living it for 48 days, though, Siddharth proves just how much he’s willing to suffer for his mother.

Perhaps the only sympathetic moments when beggars are treated as interesting human beings with interesting life experiences to offer are in the comedy track, when two other beggars show our hero the ins and outs of the begging world. Like when they tell him that he looks so plump and prosperous that even Mother Teresa would feel no pity for him. These few sequences work because they present beggars as regular people trying to live a decent life just like the rest of us. The rest of this world presented in the film, however, simply consists of the most predictably tactics to invoke our pity.

It’s not as if Amma I Love You is an unwatchable film. With plenty of potboiler elements such as songs, comedy tracks, and fights, the film skips along to a mildly entertaining finish. The songs in the film have been scored fairly well, too. On the acting front, Chiranjeevi is mildly engaging in parts, while Nishvika easily gets the audience to like her. Better performances come from some of the supporting cast like Chikkanna and Prakash Belawadi.

But what the film never manages to do is make us genuinely interested in this begging world that our hero suddenly comes to inhabit. Once we’re done with our poor-cation in Siddharth’s company, we can all comfortably return to our own worlds without too much thought about the lives of those less fortunate.  

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film's producers or any other members of its cast and crew.

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