Watching Upendra Matte Baa, you have to wonder if the people writing family entertainers these days are just pulling together a bunch of random scenes from all the past hits they liked.
From the plot to the songs to the dialogues and jokes, nearly everything in this Upendra-starrer feels like we’ve seen it all before. But instead of a feeling of pleasant nostalgia, which is one of the main things that works for this genre, we’re left with the bad aftertaste of stale and overdone ideas.
So you have the late Upendra senior, sent back from hell to help his wife (played by Prema) stop their son (also Upendra) and daughter-in-law (Shruthi Hariharan) from getting divorced. The younger couple’s dispute is a familiar one – he lives his job and doesn’t know how to show affection for his wife, and she can’t live this lonely and unloved life anymore.
But it turns out that the junior Upendra’s faults stem from his mother, who took out her anger against his father’s Casanova-like ways on the son. So from childhood she trains him never to speak to or interact with girls, leaving him unable to be a loving husband. Now the spirit of the Casanova father has to help the son overcome his barriers to discover love.
If that isn’t bizarre and slightly disturbing already, Upendra Senior’s spirit also seems determined to pack in all of the flirtation he’s missed by dying early, while inhabiting his son’s body. So much of the film is given over to Upendra’s dalliances with a bunch of women, young and old, that largely feature him reeling out innuendoes by the dozen.
There are also the obligatory scenes where Shruthi Hariharan’s character is told how a wife must attract her husband’s attention and learn to keep it.
The really cringeworthy parts, of course, come from the single-minded obsession of director Arun Loknath with women’s navels, and having things thrown at them.
There’s also a whole supernatural action story that’s running alongside this ‘fun’, comedy plot, involving a bunch of villains who want to steal some gold ornaments from the temple. Here too, it’s ghost dad who has to leap into the rescue, setting right the wrong done to him all those years ago.
As the film jumps between these two plotlines, logic and narrative are the main victims, making the film feel even longer than its two-and-a-half-hour runtime.
If you’re a fan of the trademark Uppi energy, there’s probably enough here to keep you satisfied. The women in the film don’t really have much to do, except provide visual relief, while the villains hardly register their presence.
Upendra Matte Baa feels like a dish that’s been kept in the refrigerator too long. You might just be able to stomach it, but why take the chance?
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.