If there’s anything about digital viewing that viewers get to cherish the most during a lockdown, it’s their luxury to skip the worst part of a film. It’s an underrated joy that many don’t admit it to – of moving past a scene that’s unwatchable (that moment where you would have taken to your mobile in the theatre unable to handle the embarrassment) the mandatory song that doesn’t make any sense in the context of the story or worse, getting done with the film by watching it at 1.5x speed. But, what if an entire film makes you feel like that? Amrutharamam is one of those films that makes you wonder if on-screen romance can prove to be such a dreadful experience.
Romance isn’t the word you would want to associate with this tedious fare, that plunges to newer lows by the moment. There’s no trace of depth, warmth or any chemistry between its on-screen leads Ram Mittakanti and Amitha Ranganath. They play Ram and Amrutha respectively, two problematic characters in a relationship that is destined to be doomed. In the film set in Canberra, Ram is an aimless youngster who still hasn’t earned a job three years after the completion of his masters. He wiles away time with the excuse of hunting for a job that matches his sensibilities. His friend’s sister Amrutha arrives in the city to pursue her post-grad, during which romance blossoms between the two.
Amrutha confesses their initial meeting to be a ‘love-at-first-heart’ (don’t ask us what that means) and not a ‘love-at-first-sight’ moment. She arrives in an alien country to study, but it isn’t clear if she would have to meet any attendance criteria for her course, given the umpteen times she keeps hanging out with the ‘jobless’ (we don’t say it, the girl says it) youngster. In fact, it’s their joblessness that lays a foundation for their relationship – they just have so much time in their lives. Thankfully, they both go onto find some work (to the relief of the viewer), but their relationship takes a turn for the worse.
The possessive girl, who gets irked every time any woman talks with or touches/hugs her man, is described as the ideal lover. She has no clue about personal space in a relationship, is obsessed about her partner and the director Surender Mittakanti attributes it to selfless love. She is so privileged a student that she has the monies to rent a new house for the want of personal space and move in with a guy she has met barely a week ago (after earning a part-time job that pays her $400 a week). The guy is as clueless, has the audacity to take a loan of $10,000 from a goon-like Telugu-speaking money lender without being able to earn a penny for himself. Where do such characters exactly come from?
There’s a Malayali brother to Amrutha who makes a mess of Telugu, but one wonders why don’t they ever speak in their mother tongue through the film. The brother and the sister-in-law surprisingly offer assurances about Ram’s genuine love for the girl, when insecurities get the better of Amrutha. The brother tells Ram in a situation, “I doubt even if your parents love you as sincerely as Amrutha does.” When Ram is livid with Amrutha for her obsession about him and leaves her in a fit of rage, you feel happy for the guy.
The film could have done so much to explore the Australian backdrop beyond the visuals. It would have been interesting to see how Telugus go by their life in a country that’s not home. The director either doesn’t have the budget or is clearly not interested. But for the fact that they are away from home, Amrutharamam wouldn’t have been any different had it been set in a Mumbai or a Delhi (probably, the public display of affection would have been toned down) either. The ending is unsurprisingly Atrocious (A in caps was intentional) and something that would make the medical fraternity go ROFL.
Amrutharamam’s best contribution comes from its composer N S Prasu (and we’re not being sarcastic about it). Even though the situations don’t offer him great fodder, the right bunch of established names and new voices provide a lovely musical texture to the film – it’s a shame that it happens for a lost cause. The acting is mediocre, the male lead Ram’s performance is passionless and casual, it almost feels that he’s doing a favour by trying to perform. Amitha Ranganath oversells her sequences beyond necessity. The subplot about the moneylender feels like a forced attempt to weave humour. The two-hour viewing experience feels like an ordeal – the film is more ‘visham’ than ‘amrutham’.