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Oh My Dog Movie Review: A sweet film that lacks finesse- Cinema express

Oh My Dog Movie Review: A sweet film that lacks finesse

This dog film means well and is a much-needed break from all the star vehicles, and yet...

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Published: 21st April 2022
Shots from Oh My Dog

I have a thing for dog films. I suspect that if you were to shoot a few dogs running about in your film, I will likely lose all objectivity and begin to enjoy your cinema. Even when a film like Oh My Dog is rather perfunctorily shot and performed, I still feel like getting to see a few dogs strut around is enough entertainment. But yes, before I get carried away, feature films should definitely be a lot more, a whole lot more, than children and dogs chasing each other, and yes, on this front, Oh My Dog doesn’t quite pass muster. Make no mistake, the film is — what’s that word we use all the time? Ah, yes! — well-intentioned… and imparts some useful advice to children (and perhaps to some adults too, given the times we live in). However, the emotional heft is lacking, as is technical finesse and an inventive story.

Director: Sarov Shanmugham

Cast: Vijayakumar, Arun Vijay, Arnav Vijay, Mahima, Vinay Rai

Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video

And yet, I don’t have the heart to be scathing, as our cinema barely churns out these simple, family films, let alone have them be targeted at children. Also, the protagonist in this film isn’t a star with the aim to inspire fan craze, but a dog, a Siberian husky (named Simba for obvious reasons) and a blind one at that. In another dog film, I might have been tempted to question the choice of romanticising a sought-after breed (instead of our dear mongrels), but this film establishes early on why this is so and even addresses the reason behind a lower middle-class family ending up with a husky pup. It also helps that the film is set in Ooty, as poor Siberian huskies in India are often forced to live in trying humid conditions.

The big attraction of this film is that it features three generations of the Vijayakumar family. It’s got Vijayakumar himself playing the grandfather; there’s Arun Vijay, playing his son in the film as well; and finally, Arun Vijay’s son, Arnav (playing Arjun), making his debut. The seasoned Vijayakumar and the earnest Arun Vijay are, as always, just fine. I particularly enjoyed the whole ‘Wolverine’ stunt sequence and how it gets justified in this film. More than the execution of the stunt, I liked that Arun Vijay seemed really into it. As for little Arnav, I’d be lying if I said he’s the best child actor in this film, but nevertheless, he grows on you.

In this two-hour film, there isn’t a whole lot that I suspect I’ll remember for too long. The sequence I remember particularly enjoying is when little Arjun and friends are forced to raise two lakhs for Simba’s surgery, and this results in some innocent comedy that establishes that children are kind and generous in a way adults can’t even fathom. The whole portion plays to energetic music by Nivas Prasanna, who tries hard through the film to compensate for the lack of craft excellence from other departments.

There’s a fair bit of amusement to be experienced by correlating the origins of the blind Siberian husky with your average mass hero. Like in many an old Tamil film, the journey of our hero (Simba) begins when the villain (Fernando, played by Vinay who hams it up enjoyably) orders the murder of a child (a dog-child, in this case). Unlike in our mass cinema though, our husky hero doesn’t have to do everything and can, instead, rely on love and support from the good people around him—which pretty much is the whole point of the film. And yet, I wasn’t sure why it was important that the debilitated dog be forced to take part in that final competition; I thought this choice seemed counterproductive to the self-sacrificing love being promoted by the film till then.

While the storytelling is unsurprising and the overall craft pedestrian, it’s worth noting that Oh My Dog has come out at a time when the likes of KGF: Chapter 2 and Beast are pushing to the masses a different brand of heroism. For that reason--and just for that reason--it’s hard not to feel some love for a film like this that advocates giving a chocolate and a hug to those who harm us. 

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