My Story Review: An old-fashioned romance saved by its two leads
Roshni Dinaker's debut feature has an honesty and self-awareness that is quite endearing
A small boy, Jay, aspires to be a movie star and accomplishes this goal after much struggle. How he does all that is not explained; the film isn't interested in that. Neither is it interested in exploring his past. The girl, Tara, first appears to him on a billboard for a fairness cream. No attempt is made to explore her backstory either. Character development is not one of this film's strong suits. Whether Jay is smitten by her or not, we don't really know. All we know that he is more focused on doing his debut film well.
When Jay (Prithviraj) finally sees Tara (Parvathy) in person, she has a film producer (Ganesh Venkatraman) attached to her arm. One look at him and you can immediately tell he is the villain of this story. He is a stock character, one we have seen many times before -- if this were a black -and-white Hollywood movie, he would be a gangster and Tara would be his moll. And he could be one, for a small scene gives a hint of his mafia connections. Incidentally, he is producing Jay's film; and Jay is careful not to upset his boss by doing something foolish like, you know, running away with his girl. But we know this is inevitable.
Director: Roshni Dinaker
Cast: Prithviraj, Parvathy, Manoj K Jayan, Maniyan Pillai Raju, Nandhu
In their first real conversation in a cafe, Tara tells Jay that they must be the only two actors in this world who bring their on-screen drama off-screen. This is true of My Story as well. It's honest about what it is and has no lofty aspirations. It doesn't claim to be bigger (or better) than what it really is -- a Karan Johar-style romance. It's not as grand as a KJo film, but it has elements that we have seen in some of his love stories (My Story bears a strong resemblance to one KJo film, but I won't reveal which).
One can see that director Roshni Dinaker is a big fan of KJo. Jay and Tara are both good-looking, they dance around in colourful costumes, and chill out in foreign locales. And some portions seem straight out of an Imtiaz Ali film. But, thankfully, it doesn't pretend to be as "deep" as some of Imtiaz's work. You can tell Roshni isn't interested in winning awards; she is only interested in providing you with two hours of guilty-free entertainment. I must admit that I initially dreaded going near the film after seeing the underwhelming trailers and songs. But once the film began, I went with the flow and didn't find it all that bad. Once you see the film, you'll know why those songs exist.
I must also admit that I found the film's narration quite interesting, although there were few portions that was needlessly stretched. My Story is essentially two films in one, each separated by a 20-year-gap, and sometimes both story strands run in parallel. One strand has a middle-aged Jay, now an award-winning superstar, lamenting the loss of his dear love. The other strand has Jay's younger version pursuing his love.
It's when the older Jay meets Tara's daughter Hema (also played by Parvathy) in the second half that things start to get interesting. Who is Hema's real father? What happened to Tara? And if something bad did happen, how and why did it happen? Be prepared for double and even triple twists, not all of them successful. But should we care too much? This is not a film that values logic much. As I've mentioned before, it has a self-awareness to it that I found quite endearing. Just like that cafe conversation, the film subtly gives you clues of its self-awareness in places.
Though not an award-worthy performance, Prithviraj is quite effective as the once naive and playful young man who grows into a mature and stoic old man. And so is Parvathy, who gives both her characters two distinct personalities. Manoj K Jayan manages to stand out in a brief role, as a filmmaker who is serious on the outside and funny on the inside. At one point, he makes a veiled reference to Parvathy's recent controversy. I don't know if this was intentional or if the line was added at the last minute, but everyone in the theatre laughed.