90 ML movie review: An intriguing premise let down by contrived narration
90 ML avoids the cliches you would expect in a commercial potboiler but the film runs out of steam in the second half
90 ML is an urban romcom set around an interesting premise — an upright girl, and her moralistic family, being dismayed by a youngster who suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome disorder (FASD).
Karthikeya plays Devadas, an MBA graduate, who suffers from FASD and has to take 90 ml alcohol thrice a day to survive. An 'authorised drinker', Devadas falls in love with Suvasana (Neha Solanki), a physiotherapist, who belongs to an idealistic family that has RSS roots. Directed by Sekhar Reddy Yarra, the film makes interesting observations about the young generation and highlights the need for women to be trained in self-defense, and enjoy the benefits of education, equality, and freedom.
90 ML avoids the cliches you would expect in a commercial potboiler and addresses some pertinent issues like alcohol addiction, women empowerment, and trust. The director throws in an interesting conflict of a man suffering from a peculiar disorder that forces him to consume alcohol, falling in love with an upright girl who hates alcoholics. Unfortunately, this one-line isn't developed into a solid enough script for it to work as a romcom with a strong message.
The first hour of the film coasts along well on the strength of the humour. But it gets repetitive and predictable in the second half. The promising premise that had you hooked in the beginning, gets lost midway in all those song-and-fight sequences. Also, a subplot involving Ravi Kishan and his sidekicks finding the man who bashed him turns out to be silly and unconvincing. An uninteresting clash between Devadas and Suvasana's father takes up much of the film's runtime as well.
Although you feel empathy for the protagonist, the plot here is wafer-thin, and while some elements work, it never all comes together as a satisfying whole. It certainly doesn’t help that the film unfolds over two hours and forty minutes, an excruciatingly-long running time for what’s essentially a slim story of a young man with a disorder who makes tedious attempts to win his girl.
Kartikeya's character is given some altruistic layers and the actor convincingly turns into the man suffering from a problem that only his parents know how to deal with. However, the character quickly slips into the stereotype-zone with banal lines and situations that evoke boredom.
The lead pair have comfortable chemistry and their sparks make up for many of the script’s shortcomings. Overall, 90 ML is a promising story let down by its many indulgences.