Oh the feels a small, simple film gives you! <3
The last time I felt like this was back in the year 2016 when this gem of a film called Pellichoopulu was released. Coming from the same producers is Mental Madhilo starring the highly underrated Sreevishnu and Nivetha Pethuraj in her Telugu debut. This film shares many similarities with its national-award winning predecessor Pellichoopulu – production values, the look and feel of the film, lesser known artistes, a promising newbie music director, a wafer-thin story made memorable by some amazing writing and direction, carefully etched out characters, solid and convincing performances..the list goes on! But above all this, Mental Madhilo is just as honest and real as Pellichoopulu is.
The centerpiece of this story is Aravind Krishna (Sreevishnu) – a guy so confused and indecisive that he cannot even choose between two shirts. On some level, there’s an Aravind Krishna in all of us. Enter Swetcha (Nivetha Pethuraj), a simple, sorted girl who knows her shit. Their “pellichoopulu” leads the way to a sweet friendship that evolves into something more even as their engagement falls apart. The course their story takes when Aravind is faced with taking one final, important decision for life forms the rest of the film.
It’s very interesting to see what young writers are capable of these days. Dishing out a film of over two hours with literally a paper-thin story to go on is no easy task. But these guys seem to do it so well! The film is breezy in its first half, with a generous dose of simple, situational humor that feels like a pleasant scent from the Jandhayala’s movies. I wish there were more films like this that took leverage of situations and conversations to evoke laughs rather than the done-to-death slapstick comedy we’ve come to witness. The pacing of the film never dips through the first half. Songs are not boring affairs; they are blended into the narration effortlessly…so much so that you don’t even realize there are songs in the film (another common point with Pellichoopulu?). It’s in the second half that the film dips a bit. It seems like the film lost its course but fret not, it doesn’t. It’s a temporary dip that the director is quick to fix, and the movie is back at it again pretty quickly!
The film does an exceptional job at showing the conflicts of the heart. It holds a mirror to modern-day relationships, if you will. Very few movies are this realistic in their approach and this film is surely one of them. Sreevishnu is instantly likable. He exudes innocence in a very charming way. Simply put, his performance makes you smile. A job well done! Nivetha Pethuraj makes a confident Telugu debut, her eyes doing most of the talking. Sivaji Raja is on point!
Overall, Mental Madhilo is a super good film! I’m going with 4 out of 5!
PS: All the images are screenshots from the film’s official trailer on YouTube.