Jyothi Krishna's Oxygen has finally hit the screens after numerous delays. Looking at the film, one gets the sense that it's been delayed by at least a decade. The film has an important message to deliver but by the time it gets to it, you are left gasping for...oxygen, it is.
The film opens with a man wearing flaming pants who sets another man's head on fire. The flaming pants man doesn't care at all that his pants are on fire – this is the signal that the audience is to suspend their disbelief to the bowels of the earth.
You settle down and watch the antics of the Raghupathy (Jagapathi Babu) family as they prepare for the wedding of the beloved daughter of the house, Shruti (Raashi Khanna). The groom Krishna Prasad (Gopichand), is from the US but he's so sanskaari, he lands in Indian soil in a dhoti and shirt. They give him a handshake and he gives them a namaste. He's also a fan of APJ Abdul Kalam, to make his matrimonial profile even more attractive.
Thankfully, Shruti finds him as boring as we do and wants to break off the marriage. BUT AH, THERE IS A TWIST IN THE PLOT. Well, duhh. In a completely hilarious scene, Krishna Prasad transforms from vanilla boy to a rowdy beating typhoon. As he hits the hoodlums, we're shown an X Ray of their bodies to tell us which bone exactly was broken by the hero. It's surprisingly entertaining, this whole stunt sequence.
If you thought that's all there's to the film, you'd be wrong. Because TWIST! The second half of the film is a long flashback about Krishna Prasad and who he really, really is. We get a lungful of the significance of the title as we're told who Krishna Prasad really, really is.
Anu Emmanuel appears as the second heroine – wait, is she the first because this is a flashback? - and is eliminated in the way heroines are when there's another waiting in the wing.
The script is loaded with heavily sentimental lines and drags its feet to get to the point. Apart from the "message" it wants to deliver, there's a good amount of nationalism pumped into the narrative. At one point, we're told ARMY stands for 'Adult Role Model for Youth' – I did wonder if Modi's speech writer had made that contribution.
It's as if the director sat up in the second half, decided the first half was too 'arty' (it was not, for the record) and included a laundry list of 'crowd pleasing' moments with an 'item' number to top it all. Yuvan Shankar Raja's background score is mercifully not too loud. None of the songs stick in the mind but that really is okay. At least, there aren't too many of them to distract us from X Rays and flying sickles.
The poor VFX does not help the film. Why show a man's flying head if it's going to look like a UFO? Or a grey pumpkin?
The climax is unintentionally funny (certainly funnier than Ali's slapstick attempts at comedy), with the hero treating bullets like he's in a paintball game. Ah well, if not oxygen, one definitely walks away with the sense of having inhaled a gallon of laughing gas.
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.