When Dega Arts announced Manasu Palike Mouna Ragam with Nagabhushan making his directorial debut with Sneha in the side, expectation were justifiably high. Firstly, the previous film from this banner, Ammayi Bagundi, was good. Secondly, the current season has seen a spate of new directors coming up with hits. But Manasu Palike Mouna Ragam falls flat with a thud.
The director tries his hand at various combinations and ends up with a mish-mash. He tries to touch on the subject of rural-urban disparity though the underlying subject is 'unselfish' love. The film moves at such an agonisingly slow pace that even the comedy track fails to tickle. Though it begins on a promising note with the focus on a rich girl who turns pauper overnight, the narration gets diluted as the film progresses.
The protagonist, Sneha, is a rich girl but, as destiny would have it, she becomes a destitute as a tsunami wipes out her entire family. Her father's business partners usurp her wealth and she is taken care of by the village priest. Sarathbabu, a businessman who visits the village regularly chances upon this girl during one such visit and offers to take her home -- with his wife's permission, of course. Sarathbabu has a daughter and a son (Vikram, played by Vikramaditya), a rising pop star living in London.
Sneha comes in handy as the maid of the house. The screenplay moves back and forth to establish her contrasting lifestyles, and this takes up a good amount of footage. The 'westernised' Vikram believes that for a marriage to be successful, there should be compatibility between the partners. This assumption of his is based on the love-hate relationship that exists between his friend and his spouse. He comes to India and after a few soggy scenes, Sneha realises that she is in love with Vikram, while the latter too begins to like her. But he is not sure whether it is love or just infatuation. Meanwhile, Sarathbabu and his wife have different plans for Sneha.
The problem with the film is a sketchy screenplay. The characters are not well-etched, and the dialogue is insipid. One wishes L B Sriram, who appears in a comic role, had written the dialogues instead.
As far as acting is concerned, Sneha has very little to do even in the pivotal role. The only lengthy dialogue she gets is at the fag end of the film. Most of the actors flit from one scene to another like zombies, with the director failing to get the best out of them. There's nothing much to write about Vikramaditya's performance either.
On the whole, the film is a big disappointment.