Mahanubhavudu (Telugu)

As a serial sanitizer user and organization freak I am often used to people wondering how I find the time or enthusiasm to color code my wardrobe or clean an already clean house. Friends and family often remark “you have OCD”. I know I don’t, they know I don’t and yet the phrase is thrown around so loosely that by that yardstick most of our mothers would have had OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). So much so that the term seems to have lost the very impact it was invented to convey! However, it is a condition that manifests itself in different ways in different measures and often affects an individual’s life dramatically.

Case in point, Anand (played by Sharwanand in a fine, fine performance), the protagonist of Mahanubhavudu, who suffers from an acute case of OCD that dictates the way he lives his life in a society that doesn’t put the same emphasis on cleanliness as he does. This situation is naturally milked to great extent for comedy purposes but director Maruthi excels in not letting the humor get too crass or obnoxious. Instead the scenes feel relatable, the dialogue flows naturally and is aided with good background score (the title song in particular is fantastic) and you develop a sense of compassion for Anand as he struggles to cope with his condition. Anand is a very well written character because of how self aware he is. He realizes that his lifestyle is not common and that people around him often suffer because of it. In one scene, we see how much it pains Anand to have alienated his mother on account of his condition and that despite all the jokes and mockery, this is a real person with a real valid condition.

Anand’s life takes a turn when he falls in love with Meghana (played by Mehreen Pirzada who manages to do a decent lip-sync job) who whilst appreciates the cleanliness standards demanded by Anand quickly realizes that what he has is not just a quirk but a condition with serious implications. Through several situations, she comes to logically conclude that for their relationship to work Anand has to change or at least be willing to overlook some things. What I really liked about this whole romantic angle was that the woman had a voice and was allowed to make a rational choice. We see how she is torn between loving a man who means well but cannot help himself in most situations that demand human interaction.

When the movie shifts action to Meghana’s village where Anand goes with the intention of winning her back, the humor picks up a notch as Anand’s OCD is exacerbated by the environment he is living in. Instead of slowly overcoming his condition, an emergency triggers a change in him. Whilst this seems discordant with the relatively realistic tone of the movie, thankfully the movie ends on a nice note where we sense that Anand is a work in progress. And aren’t we all in some way 🙂

The star of this movie is Sharwanand who infuses Anand with both charm and like-ability. In playing a character that isn’t perfect and typical of traditional Telugu heroes, he breaks the mould whilst still staying true to the character. His comic timing, especially in the second half of the movie is brilliant. He is aided well by the always reliable Vennela Kishore who is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors in Telugu cinema. The rest of the supporting cast does a respectable job as well. I wish the director didn’t feel compelled to include the regular 2–3 romantic songs because they do nothing to propel the story forward and instead break the flow of the movie.

It is refreshing to see traditional Telugu cinema storytelling thrive in a newer setup where plot and logic hold value and Mahanubhavudu is a perfect example of that. Definitely one of the most entertaining movies I have seen this year and one of those rare movies that can appeal to a wide spectrum of viewers.

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