I can finish writing this review with just three words - 'Man Baby Alert'. However, if my editor asks me why I'm being lazy, I cannot whip my hair around, break a few chairs, rip my clothes open and declare - 'BECAUUUUUUSSEEE, I'MMMA WRITER!!' Nobody will understand "my pain" and well, one cannot eat artistic temperament for breakfast. So, let me do my job.
Directed by Kranthi Madhav, World Famous Lover actually has a promising beginning. We see Gautham's (Vijay Deverakonda) complete indifference towards his live-in partner Yamini (an arresting Raashi Khanna). She does everything for him, from applying toothpaste on his toothbrush before she leaves for work to letting him have sexual intercourse every night as she lies like a stone beneath him. Gautham doesn't even look at her - he spends his day cluttering the house and watching Cartoon Network. And one fine day, she decides to leave him.
WOW, I thought. Are we going to watch a film about a man who realises that he's been a man baby? Is the man baby going to grow up?
Clearly, I have more imagination than Kranthi Madhav. Because what happens next is that the man baby decides to write a book while wallowing in his self pity. This "book" takes the action to the coal mines in Yellandu, where Gautham's character Sreenu (who is, surprise surprise, modelled on him) lives with his wife Suvarna (Aishwarya Rajesh) and is just as abusive towards her as Gautham is to Yamini. The only difference is that in this avatar, Vijay Deverakonda speaks a different dialect and is dressed like a lower middle class man.
Like Raashi, Aishwarya Rajesh comes off looking genuine in an otherwise preposterously contrived film. As Suvarna, she registers coyness, hurt and anger wonderfully well. However, Suvarna is stuck in the mould of an '80s heroine who will put up with any amount of gaslighting and nonsense from her husband (she doesn't even reveal that she's more educated than he is...because who wants a wife who's superior to her man?). I wished for Gautham's sake that he'd had one sensible friend who'd read his work and tell him - sorry, bro, this story is approximately 2000 years old and deserves to be in a museum with the fossils, but then, the only friend he has is poor Priyadarshi. The comedian plays the usual friend role but even he seems to be having trouble buying the ridiculous storyline.
Catherine Tresa plays the sophisticated Smitha in the story within the story. She does what she can with the badly written role - apparently, if you wear lipstick and tight skirts, you won't mind very much if a man has hidden his relationship status from you. Okay, let's allow Gautham his creative liberty before he drinks a bottle of alcohol and rips through my computer screen.
World Famous Lover also takes us to Paris because Gautham is on a roll. He's in pain, he's in sorrow, he's hurting, he's crying, he's artiiiisstee! We're treated to one more unimaginative love story involving a French pilot who wants to wait till marriage to have sex (what? You thought only Indian women are sanskaari?). The film's writing plunges and discovers new lows, with many of the scenes becoming unintentionally funny. Gautham also stares directly at the camera at times and drops his writerly perspectives which are about as insightful as a block of wood.
Towards the end of the torturous 2.5 hours, there was a moment when I thought Kranthi Madhav had redeemed himself. The man baby seemed to have woken up from his slumber, and I wondered if the ending was going to overturn whatever we'd watched and how we'd watched it. Were the women going to be allowed a body part known as the spine? TWIST, TWIST, TWIST, my optimistic brain screamed. But no, a happy ending in our movies can never be the man baby deprived of his lollipop, can it?
World Famous Lover tries to capitalise on Vijay Deverakonda's image as an Angry Young Lover aka Arjun Reddy. But even the actor seems unconvinced when he's required to howl about his shallow heartbreak, hamming it up the best he can. It's difficult to like anything at all about Gautham and so, his interminably long tantrums just get on your nerves. Also, it's hard to take a writer seriously when his book is called World Famous Lover and without the slightest bit of irony. The songs and the forced fights only make the film slower than it needs to be.
If anything, World Famous Lover is a good guide on 'How Not To Become A Writer', including which haircut you must not sport when you go onstage for a felicitation.
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.