‘Paagal’ movie review: A bizarre story of finding love

This Vishwak Sen and Nivetha Pethuraj film packs in troublesome ideas in the name of love

The hero is on a mission to find love. He seeks a woman who will love him as much as his mother did. When he is barely an adolescent, he walks into the nearest girls’ school with balloons and declares his love to every girl who crosses his path. By the time he’s an adult, he has professed his love to around 1600 women. And the makers of this film thought this is cute, or funny, or both. It’s one thing to narrate a story of a boy who loses his mother and yearns for love and another to turn it into a bizarre romcom drama.

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After a restrained portrayal of an investigation officer in HIT (2020), Vishwak Sen gets to play a flamboyant romantic hero named Prem who can crack jokes, dance and shed tears. But it’s tough to take his character or intentions seriously in a story that gets stranger as it progresses.

Paagal

  • Cast: Vishwak Sen, Nivetha Pethuraj, Simran Choudhary, Megha Lekha
  • Direction: Naresh Kuppili
  • Music: Radhan

When his quest for love reaches naught in Hyderabad, someone tells Prem that women in Vizag are more amenable — love in as generous as the ocean, or something along those lines. In the very next scene, Prem is in Vizag.

A woman who fits into the traditional mould, another who fits the stereotype of using a man like an ATM — all become part of the quest. The hero’s friends led by Mahes Achanta and eve teasers led by Rahul Ramakrishna become tools to unleash gags along the way.

Out of the blue, a friend puts forth the notion that a plain Jane would easily fall for a handsome guy (I didn’t make that up) and soon, Prem is wooing a plus-size woman. A stream of body shaming remarks keep coming from the friends and eve teasers.

To make this courtship look cool, Prem and the lady talk in high-pitched, loud voices because — hold your breath — that’s how romance happens in a Mani Ratnam film. My memory of Geetanjali will now remain scarred.

As though this wasn’t enough, the romantic quest moves on to a prospective MLA played by Murali Sharma. A strange stalking happens in the garb of comedy and no, they are not gay.

A last ditch attempt to salvage the story through an unexpected turn of events offers a chance at redemption.

The film finds its rhythm when it focuses on the romance between Dheera (Nivetha Pethuraj) and Prem. She’s engaged to someone else but is willing to romance him for six months just to create beautiful memories for a lifetime. We know how such stories go.

Paagal tries in vain to tie up all these segments together with philosophical-sounding lines about mother’s love. The story idea of a man seeking mother’s love from his life partner is contrived; it’s time the on-screen lover boys get real and grow up. The women are of the same impressionable age as the men, and make mistakes and grow, just like the men.

Songs composed by Radhan and Manikandan’s cinematography offer some solace in this barely palatable story.

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