Vidya Vasula Aham review: A harmless marriage dramedy

Vidya Vasula Aham review: A harmless marriage dramedy

Director Manikanth Gelli maintains a light touch to the film and never resorts to moralising its protagonists
Vidya Vasula Aham(2.5 / 5)

Marriage dramedies are not new to Telugu cinema, but these films often come embedded with a moral code guised as old-school fables that emphasise the conservatism and sanctity required of marriage. It is important for these films to be  guided by a definitive voice that proclaims a happy ending when content with the protagonists’ method of finding resolution. So when Vidya Vasula Aham begins with the deities Vishnu and Lakshmi deciding to take stock of the world below and have a look at the life of one particular newlywed couple, I was  sceptical. Fortunately, director Manikanth Gelli steers clear of the obvious stereotypes and instead opts for a light-hearted narrative about two young souls (played by Rahul Vijay and Shivani Rajashekhar) receiving their share of epiphanies as they learn the essence of marriage.

The stakes of Vidya Vasula Aham are embarrassingly low, considering Vidya (Shivani) and Vasu (Rahul) never seriously challenge each other’s egos or self-esteem to the point of messy conflict, but the film retains a comic touch throughout, even in its more sombre moments. The relentless banter between the couple is harmless and amusing enough for us to stay invested. It’s a pity that Manikanth Gelli doesn’t delve deeper into the protagonists’ inner lives as we proceed into the second act, because what keeps us entertained in the early portions is how Vidya and Vasu truly appear to have unique personalities of their own. When Vidya agrees to give marriage a shot after much pestering from her parents, she prepares a personalised questionnaire to test the prospective groom’s sensibilities and then approves the candidates by her own standards. When Vasu fills in the form, he writes his answers with a wit and nonchalance befitting his age. 

Unfortunately, there are not enough dramatic turns in the script later on that help explore their characters in depth. Even though the narrative centres around Vidya and Vasu and their petty squabbles, we have no clear insight into their individual personalities outside of their marriage. We don’t know if Vasu has any close friends or whether Vidya has a colleague she confides in. The film is not interested in those details, which often leads to the narrative coming across as superficial, not to mention the stageplay-style execution owing to its constrained physical set-up.

Vidya Vasula Aham also comes with a disjointed screenplay, which prevents the film from exploring a  commentary on modern relationships. In the first half, some minor conflicts are strung together without a sense of coherence. A small chapter on Vasula’s sexual urges is amusing but doesn’t add up to the larger narrative arc. Similarly, the plot point of Vasu being jealous of Vidya’s harmless romantic past is casually strewn away, and never comes up later in the film.

Cast: Shivani Rajashekar, Rahul Vijay, Abhinaya, Ravi Varma, Viva Raghav

Rating: 2.5 stars

Director: Manikanth Gelli

What salvages Vidya Vasula Aham is its brief runtime (103 minutes), lowbrow energy, and interesting performances from the lead couple, especially Shivani Rajashekar. Shivani has a vibrant screen presence, and carries the film on her shoulders. Rahul Vijay, meanwhile, is enjoyable as Vasu but pales in comparison. The two actors particularly share great chemistry in the early scenes where Vidya and Vasu bask in the light of marital bliss that often strikes the newlyweds.

What also works in the film’s favour is that, despite its staging of a tale unfolding from God’s perspective, it never preaches a moral code or judges its protagonists. On most days, Vidya and Vasu behave like adolescents still learning the ropes of romantic relationships, and the film knows that. At one point, Vasu gets infuriatingly jealous after Vidya tells him about being in touch with a man who had once proposed to her. The film never attempts to reward or justify Vasu here. It may passingly laugh at Vasu’s choices, but it never demeans his existential crisis. There is an amusing moment in the second half when Vidya and Vasu fight for the remote control, before Vasu sheepishly hands over the remote to Vidya, realising his entitled behaviour.

For all its flaws and limitations, Vidya Vasula Aham maintains this sense of playfulness and humour throughout the narrative, and hence, remains a watchable fare. 

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