Oh! Baby Movie Review: Samantha shines in this social commentary
The film makes an important point about the efforts that often go unnoticed in keeping a family together, the stigma towards elderly folks, and the love that they deserve
Samantha and Nandini Reddy have been promoting Oh! Baby as a tribute to all mothers who toil away without any gratitude or expectation. And despite the tiny disappointments that I had, it lived up to its pre-release promise.
As the trailer already shows, this film is about the older Baby (Lakshmi), who was widowed and pregnant at a young age, and for whom her son and grandchildren are everything. Due to unforeseen circumstances, she finds herself unwelcome in her own house. She subsequently wanders off and finds herself in a photo studio, where she gets a picture of herself clicked for the sake of posterity, only to find something supernatural at work turning her into a 24-year-old. With a chance to live the life she missed out on, she begins adventuring as Swati (Samantha). Her shenanigans and what it leads to make up the rest of the movie.
Cast: Samantha Akkineni, Lakshmi, Rajendra Prasad, Rao Ramesh, Naga Shaurya
Director: BV Nandini Reddy
Lakshmi plays Baby as a bumbling fussy grandmother. She is adorable, annoying, and plain pitiful in just the right amounts. Although her portions last for just over half an hour, her antics draw us right in. She is the foundation for everything Samantha does afterwards, as a young Baby aka Swati. And Samantha... Phew! With complete disregard to people’s perception towards her, she beautifully portrays the wisdom of the years and the burden of a difficult life. If she cries, you tear up. If she finds love, you smile. However, at the risk of sounding like a party pooper, Samantha’s angry, loud abuses, and the 'Look, I’m having fun' montages are a bit of an overkill towards the end of the first half. This probably also has to do with the length of the film which makes the caricaturish acting feel like an overdose. Either way, it's clear that Samantha is having a lot of fun playing Baby. Even if you are already a fan, you will find more reasons to love her.
While Samantha is the face of the film, and rightly so, the supporting cast are the real winners. All of them play relatable characters who are victims of circumstances. Rao Ramesh leaves us in tears, as a man stuck between the love he has for his mother and the love he has for his wife and kids. Pragathi is every one of our mothers, who lives a thankless life, not acknowledged by the elders nor the young ones of the house. She makes us want to go home and give our mother a hug. Aneesha plays the angsty teenage granddaughter and is convincing when she says to her father, "Neeku mee amma entho naku maa amma anthe." Teja Sajja shares possibly the most screentime with Samantha (besides Rajendra Prasad) and he delivers an earnest performance.
Rajendra Prasad never ceases to amaze. As Chanti, the loyal best friend of Baby, he goes from angry to sad to confused to funny in seconds, and not for a moment does it feel out-of-place. Naga Shaurya in an extended cameo plays a role which seems like it was written only for Baby to feel and experience love again. And he delivers.
On the flip side, despite putting up a good show, Sunaina, who plays Chanti’s daughter, has an irritatingly one-note character which is completely dispensable in the plotline. It pains me to see a performer like that underused. Snigdha too plays a role which could absolutely have been done away with, considering the character-heavy script.
The dialogues given to the older folk (in a young body or otherwise) are by and large quite agreeable, but they do falter in places. In which TV station will you hear a backstage assistant say, "This is the power of TV!" five minutes before the show goes live? For a movie with an entire act based on a music show, there doesn't seem to be much attention towards it, let alone research. It is awkward to see Teja in a song with a guitar in hand while only the keyboard is playing in the background. As beautiful as Samantha looks on stage, she isn't too convincing as a singer either.
But all told, Oh! Baby makes an important point about the efforts that often go unnoticed in keeping a family together. It also talks about the stigma towards elderly folks and the love that they deserve. And it gets all this bang on. Take your parents and grandparents to this one!