The film has very problematic things to say about rape, women and disability.

Review Madha Mathu Manasi is an overly sentimental romance with regressive overtonesScreenshot from YouTube promo
Features Film Review Friday, November 25, 2016 - 16:49

Watch “Madha Mathu Manasi”, and you wonder why Kannadiga protagonists can’t seem to have a regular romantic life bereft of over-the-top melodrama and angst. Switching up from the usual trope of men who harass women till they submit to their affections, the Sathish Pradhan-directed film features a protagonist who puts the happiness of the object of his affection ahead of his own happiness. 

At first glance, this might seem like an interesting shift from the beaten path. Unfortunately, Madha’s (Prajwal Devraj) and Manasi’s (Shruti Hariharan) romance stays firmly locked in regressive and stereotypical territory. Thus, the film talks of rape as a tragic event, and on the surface, seems as if it is against victim blaming. Yet, even as the characters mouth this idea, their actions suggest the opposite, and the film can only do away with the stigma by undoing the event itself. 

Similarly, while Madha is portrayed as a steadfast lover who’s only concern is Manasi’s happiness, the film constantly refers to women as fickle and cold-hearted, at whose hands earnest men can expect only pain and heartbreak. As if this weren’t enough, the film portrays disability in a way that is truly appalling, taking a patronising attitude of charity towards a disabled character.

Couple that with a few comedy routines involving jokes about urination and euphemistic anal humour, and there’s not a lot working for the film. 

Between the incredibly problematic ‘sentimental’ scenes, director Sathish packs in a bunch of songs and fights, the latter typically involving henchmen falling in slow-motion after being felled by single blows from Madha. These come up at odd intervals without any reason other than to fill up screen time, and do nothing to relieve the burden of a hackneyed story. 

The acting is nothing to write home about, with Prajwal and Shruti struggling to make the best of a bad story and script. The other characters don’t really stick in one’s mind.  

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