O2 Movie Review: An experimental film with uneven thrills

O2 Movie Review: An experimental film with uneven thrills

O2 is an experimental Kannada film from Raghav Nayak and Prashanth Raj, who aim to introduce a rare genre combining medical, love and content-oriented themes
O2(3 / 5)

Love is in the air, as the saying goes, and it takes on a whole new meaning in the film O2, directed by the duo Raghav Nayak and Prashanth Raj. Here, love and science intertwine, and the story implies that love is omnipresent. Within the confines of a hospital-based narrative, this film explores the emotional core of its characters and the human connections, with some thriller elements thrown in. In other words, amidst the clinical sterility of science, elements of a medical thriller and romance intertwine in O2. Can all of it infuse its audience with a revitalising pulse? Let us find out.

Director: Raghav Nayak and Prashanth Raj
Cast: Ashika Ranganath, Raghav Nayak, Praveen Tej, Siri Ravi Kumar, Puneeth Baa, and Prakash Belawadi

O2 holds sentimental value as it was the last script endorsed and approved by Puneeth Rajkumar for his production house. The film, classifiable under a unique genre for Kannada cinema that focuses on medical research, revolves around Dr Shraddha Nayak (Ashika Ranganath), an MD in Anesthesiology. Alongside three other doctors—Shrushti (Siri Ravikumar), Dev (Praveen Tej), and Venky (Puneeth BA)—Shraddha conducts extensive research on a drug injection known as O2 that is said to revive the dead. Despite opposition from the senior doctor (Prakash Belawadi), they proceed to experiment on a patient, but this first attempt fails.
Amidst this, we are given insight into Shraddha’s own medical issues. Despite being a doctor, she fears conveying death to family members due to her past childhood trauma surrounding her father’s untimely demise. Since then, she has been on medication for depression.

We are introduced to Osho (Raghav Nayak), whose voice is first established on the radio, and we discover a connection between him and Shraddha. Osho is an aspiring musician who dreams of entering the Berkeley music studio. The kind, charming, and romantic Osho is head over heels in love with Shraddha, whom he fondly calls ‘Emergency’. What starts as friendship quickly evolves into a romantic relationship, within a few weeks of which Osho proposes marriage to her by presenting her with an ancestral finger ring. However, Shraddha, who is committed to her career as a doctor, hesitates to commit to a relationship. Meanwhile, Dev harbours feelings for Shraddha, although he has never expressed them.

Returning to the experiment, the doctors get an opportunity to test the O2 drug on a second patient, an experiment that is impeded by an accident. When the doctors feel they are having a breakthrough, a fire breaks out in the ICU, and while the three other doctors, including Shraddha, manage to escape, Dev is trapped with the patient. This mishap changes the lives of the three, especially Dev, who goes through treatment. Meanwhile, Shraddha takes it upon herself to prove the effectiveness of O2, and successfully so. However, the interesting aspect of the narrative lies in how she takes forward her connection with Osho, Dev, and herself, as well as her reaction upon discovering certain truths that leave the film with an open ending.

O2 is an experimental Kannada film from Raghav Nayak and Prashanth Raj, who aim to introduce a rare genre combining medical, love and content-oriented themes. Despite the inclusion of several elements in this medical thriller, the straightforward narrative makes it predictable and somewhat kills the suspense. The film initially establishes the characters, focusing on father-daughter relationships and follows with the lives of doctors. The primary characters have dual shades to their personalities, and the director explores themes of astral travel, which comes across as unique.

Ashika Ranganath, in a refreshingly new role, is the heart and soul of O2. She embodies the fears and commitments of a doctor and subtly handles her romantic track in the film. Her portrayal deviates from a typical commercial heroine, allowing room for a neat performance in line with the intricacies of the character. On the other hand, besides directing, Raghav Nayak appears in the film as Osho/ Omkar. His character explains love, contrasting with the theme of death, which becomes the moral of the story. Osho’s philosophy of living one day at a time is well portrayed by Nayak. Praveen Tej portrays a doctor navigating life post-incident with a well-balanced performance, while Siri Ravikumar shines in her limited screen time. Puneeth BA adds a touch of humour to the film, which also has Prakash Belawadi and Gopal Krishna Deshpande in supporting roles.
Aside from the story and the various characters involved, the music is a highlight of O2. Credit goes to music director Vivan Radhakrishna as well as singer Sanjith Hegde, who lends a soulful voice to most of the songs. Special mentions should also be made to lyricist Jayanth Kaikini and the music director himself for penning some meaningful lines for the various tracks. The cinematography by Naveen Kumar S seamlessly complements the story’s movements, whether the location is a hospital, a beach, or amidst green environments.

While O2 stands as a good attempt by the directorial duo to explore a unique blend of a medical thriller and romance with heartfelt storytelling, the straightforward narrative may make some aspects predictable. However, it shines through its well-developed characters, engaging performances, and soul-stirring music. As Shraddha’s journey intertwines with the themes of love, loss, and self-discovery, viewers are prompted to contemplate the intricacies of life and the significance of human connections.

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