There was a sentiment I shared with a friend of mine who accompanied me to watch this film. There have been a plethora of films made about body confidence in the modern era. Attaining physical perfection is more important than ever as we are shoved Adonis and angelic physiques down our collective eye sockets while vanity has always been one of the seven deadly sins we are more than ready to indulge in.
There have been righteous fighters against this phenomenon and they range from Meghan Trainor to Allari Naresh. Most of these pop culture icons seemingly fight for the right to be “imperfect”. But they forget one minute yet telling detail, which is the fact that body confidence does not come via a summer pop anthem or by a shoddily put together film that steers its characters into the drudges of ineptitude while bestowing the lead character with an unearned moment of triumph while unacceptable character growth is dumped on the supporting cast as the climactic exchanges come around.
Getting back to my point, I told my friend that this film does this one extremely refreshing thing, which most of the other “teaches audiences’ body-confidence” films don’t, where the character knows his shortcomings pertaining to his appearance and has come to accept it. His close circle knows these shortcomings too and they have adequately learned to live with them.
The character himself refuses to waste his hard-earned money or brain cells either researching about or splurging on expensive and ultimately fruitless hair treatments nor by wearing wigs or hats, but instead goes to the gym to work out as he knows it is an area of his appearance he can control. Moments of subtle maturity like this are what most of us experience while trudging through our existence. The fact that a film is smart enough to acknowledge this is what elevates it from the ether of mediocrity to the truly memorable.
Ondu Motteya Kathe is the story of a 28-year old Kannada teacher whose attempts at moving into marital bliss are thwarted by the blight of baldness. With a plot so thin, the writer, director, and star of the film Raj B Shetty concocts scenes brimming with humor while the underlying sadness, to an issue he has had to live with on a daily basis, is unmistakably present. As the writer of this story, he had the creative control to fill his character’s characterization with every single one of the 4 cardinal and 7 heavenly virtues, and in the hands of a lesser writer, the character would have been adorned with them, but Shetty takes the high ground and creates a fully realised, three-dimensional and memorable character.
After being subject to unfocused and ultimately futile messes (because the films themselves contradict their message) like Size Zero, Laddu Babu and many more of the sort, Ondu Motteya Kathe is a breath of fresh air. The film, generously peppered with the yesteryear hit songs of Dr. Rajkumar, is always engaging. The plot or the characters might slide away from the established world but are always relatable and illicit chuckles and loud laughs from the audiences in equal measure; they definitely did at my cinema hall.
I’ve made a conscious decision to reveal as little about the plot as possible as learning about these characters and the story itself is a highly rewarding experience. Each and every one of us has a flaw in our appearance and/or psyche that we are not so proud of. This film might act as a cathartic experience for few in the audience as it bears open the flaws of the main character and invites the audience to laugh with and at the character while in turn learning from and laughing at themselves. It assures that flaws no matter how blatant are always a part of us and learning to live with and improving on them is excessively more desirable than lying to ourselves and pretending they don’t exist or harboring feelings that call our flaws pariahs.
Rarely have I seen a film handle issues regarding the human body with the due amount of respect it deserves. Ondu Motteya Kathe might not be a perfect film but like its lead and supporting characters, the imperfections are what made me connect to and ultimately like the film.