Rewinding time is a fascinating idea to think about. Unlike the regular concept of time travel, you won’t get to meet your past self and implode the universe. This ‘time-rewind’ operates on a strange pop-culture belief that if we were to physically move back in time, our physical state would change accordingly… but not our consciousness. That is to say, you will carry all the experience you had gained in life.
It seems like Ashwath Marimuthu was so fascinated with the ‘time-rewind’ concept, he chose to tell it twice, as Oh My Kadavule in Tamil and as Ori Devuda in Telugu. Of course, it’s a very potent idea. Just last month, Shree Karthick explored something similar with Oke Oka Jeevitham, a science-fiction film about the inevitability of destiny, but the characters were stuck within the rules of time travel. But Ashwath has a trump card for his time-rewind: God!
Ori Devuda follows Arjun (Vishwak Sen), a young man who is stuck in what he calls a ‘loveless love marriage’ with his best friend Anu Paulraj (Mithila Palkar). Arjun is instead in love with Meera (Asha Bhat), and he can’t wait to get a divorce from Anu. On the day at court, Arjun gets a divine intervention from two mysterious men (Venkatesh and Rahul Ramakrishna), and he gets a second chance at life; he is transported back in time to the moment he agreed to marry Anu, and this time, he refuses. But things can’t be so easy for our protagonist, right? Arjun has to keep a magic ticket with him at all times and he can’t ever speak about this second chance… or else, he will die.
There are quite a few ways to look at this story. At the heart of it, it is a story about a man who realises his love for his wife. It is a philosophical one that tells us that we can only control a few things in life, that we only get to know little about the people in our lives, and hence it is of utmost importance that we are empathetic to how our actions change them. A brilliant scene featuring Arjun and Paulraj (Anu’s father, played by Murali Sharma) tells us the same. Then comes the fantasy story featuring the celestial puppeteer (God) with themes of destiny and luck.
Director: Ashwath Marimuthu
Cast: Vishwak Sen, Mithila Palkar, Venkatesh, Murali Sharma, Venkatesh Kakamanu
Runtime: 143 minutes
Storyline: Arjun is stuck in a loveless marriage with his childhood best friend Anu. Just when they decide to get divorced, a divine intervention changes his live forever
For those who have watched Oh My Kadavule, watching Ori Devuda might not add too much. It’s a scene-by-scene remake that offers nothing new, isn’t altered much to suit the Telugu milieu, and it’s disappointing that there are no attempts to right the wrongs of the original movie. For instance, after the release of the first movie, there were concerns about the lack of agency for Anu. She never gets to know what happened to Arjun, and this reduces her to a mere puppet. After all, Arjun is particular about an equal partnership, so isn’t it unfair that she never gets a birds-eye view of all her options? For a film that personifies God and deals with magic, Ashwath could have pushed the envelope a little more with the remake. Similarly, instead of just hinting at it, the film could have taken time to show how Anu felt about the marriage. Why does she start detesting that Thaman song? Where does her possessiveness over Arjun come from? and so on. And, why is Meera’s arc once again left unfinished in the original timeline? We never get to know.
Vishwak Sen takes his time to settle into his role. Though the nonchalance with which Ashok Selvan performed in the original goes amiss in a few instances, he is a good replacement for Ashok. Perhaps, that’s why, like Ashok, he too looks silly and unconvincing when he gets into a laughing fit after Venkatesh (Vijay Sethupathi, in the original) reveals his identity. When it comes to the emotionally hefty scenes, he does make a commendable mark. Mithila’s version of Anu, on the other hand, is much more memorable than that of Ritika Singh. Despite the shallow characterisation, Mithila manages to express quite a lot with her expressions. Venkatesh Kakumanu plays Mani, Arjun and Anu’s best friend, and his humour works way better than it did in the original, where Sha Ra played the role.
For those who are yet to watch Oh My Kadavule, Ori Devuda might be a fantasy romance drama unlike any other. There’s earnestness in its writing, and quite a few surprises to keep you entertained. It also has a star like Venkatesh whose charm and wit will appeal to the regional audience. But should a remake make you wonder if a simple dubbed version would have done the job? Wasn’t this supposed to be the priceless second chance that Ashwath talks about in the film?
Ori Devuda is currently running in theatres