The script focuses most of its attention on rehashing common sense into couplets of worldly “wisdom”.

Review Beautiful Manasugalu lets the usual stereotypes drag down a women-centric film  Screenshot/YouTube trailer
news Film Review Friday, January 20, 2017 - 16:37

It's another case of two steps forward and one step back. Director Jayatheertha's Beautiful Manasugalu aspires to be a movie about women and society's callousness towards them.

Unfortunately, it ends up repeating some of the same stereotypes and biases that evoke such callousness in the first place.

In Beautiful Manasugalu, Nandhini (Sruthi Hariharan) is the sole breadwinner of a lower middle class family. She suddenly finds love in the seemingly open, generous and large-hearted Prashant (Satish Ninasam).

But just when it looks like life might mean something more than the difficulties of responsibility, everything shatters when Nandhini becomes accused of immoral activity.

For a movie that's apparently centred on women, however, Beautiful Manasugalu has little agency to offer its lead woman character, putting her in a shocked withdrawal for most of the film instead. It's up to the hero to rescue her from this situation. And how does he go about doing that? By dragging another woman into the callous game of the corrupt villain.

There are times when you think Beautiful Manasugalu might offer some redemption - when Nandhini breaks out of her stupor to hit out at Prashant for not believing in her when the world turns against her. Or when it seems she disapproves of his hero complex and asks why he couldn't just be a source of support instead.

But these moments get lost in the mix because Prashant's love is "true" and that's all that seems to matter for Nandhini or anyone else in this story.

The film takes predictable pot shots at easy targets like corrupt cops and media houses obsessed with TRPs and breaking news. But having seen these portrayals play out in at least seven out of every 10 recent films, one learns nothing new about the police or the media.

Perhaps the problem lies in the way script writers focus so much on creating punch dialogues and pithy couplets out of common sense truisms. Beautiful Manasugalu abounds with these. But all said and done, one has heard most of them in one form or another from annoying uncles on train journeys and one doesn't need to pay money to hear them again.  

Sruthi and Satish are competent enough to play out their roles with the necessary emotion. And they do bring a nice chemistry to the screen. Veteran Achyut Kumar also knows all the right buttons to push. BJ Bharath's music lifts the mood at regular intervals.

But when the end credits roll by, you can't help but wonder if this is all that's come out of all our national debates on gender in recent years. 

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