You would think that in 2018, with gender a hot topic of discussion all around the world, at least the worst stereotypes about men and women might disappear from Kannada cinema. Unfortunately, while love letters may have given way to WhatsApp messages and Facebook, the clichés from the 1980s refuse to go away.
The latest egregious example of this tendency is #O Premave. Directed by and starring Manoj Kumar, #O Premave is just one more film that sees women as gold-diggers and urges them to look past material trappings and see the ‘true dedication’ of the men who love them.
So you have Nikki Galrani, playing a middle-class girl who spends most of her time shopping and checking out fancy cars and whose ambition seems to be to marry rich. When she lays eyes on Manoj, who drives around a new expensive car every time, it’s nearly love at first sight.
But all is not well in this cardboard-thin romance, since it eventually transpires that our hero doesn’t own any of these cars but only deals in them. Naturally, Nikki’s character, who admits she fell in love with our hero only after seeing him step out of an Audi or some other luxury car, feels cheated and breaks off the romance.
All of the inevitable declamations follow about the calculating and materialistic nature of women and the loyal nature of men. For good measure, there’s also an Men’s Rights Activist aside about how there’s no one to support men when they’ve been wronged, while there are plenty of groups for women. From here, the film takes many unnecessary twists and turns before finally coming to what is probably supposed to be a happy ending.
As if this weren’t enough, there are also a couple of racist jokes involving a dark-skinned supporting actor, and a reference to another obese actor as ‘elephant body’. And, of course, a cameo by Huccha Venkat that slut-shames women for wearing short dresses and straying from the path of Indian culture.
The film is plotted as unthinkingly as the main storyline is written. So, there is a completely unnecessary comedy track involving Sadhu Kokila and a handful of entirely predictable fights and songs. In fact, the film is plotted in such a formulaic manner that, at the interval, it introduces a bizarre suspense scene completely unconnected to the film’s storyline just to fit the masala film standard.
If you thought the acting performances might save the day, there’s not much hope for it. Manoj Kumar looks awkward and uncomfortable throughout the film, like he doesn’t know where the scene is going next. Nikki would be a little more tolerable if she weren’t reduced to so many needless tears in the film. Apoorva, who plays a second love interest to Manoj, is too wooden to be relatable.
At the end of the day, if you’re looking for a well-crafted romance with relatable characters, #O Premave is not it.
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.