: After graduating from college, Karthik decides to take a year-long break to discover himself and soon after he returns to Hyderabad, after a six-month long trip to Europe, he ends up falling in love with Nandu. The rest of the story is about how Karthik convinces Nandu that he's perfect for her despite a series of setbacks in their budding relationship.
: You know there is something amiss when a film doesn't quite hit the ball out of park despite having a likeable lead pair and a story, which tries to explore the nuances of love and how the current generation perceives the concept of freedom. Oka Laila Kosam is the kind of film which tries hard to be a true blue 'feel good' entertainer but doesn't quite fall in the zone where you would be swept away by its charm. Not that it's a badly made film, but considering the fact that it starts off on a promising note, one would expect it to be at least an enriching experience.
The film has Naga Chaitanya playing a 20 something youngster, Karthik, whose idea of freedom is to travel across the world and discover his true self in the process. In the middle of his journey, he comes across Nandu (played by Pooja Hegde) and falls in love with her instantly. Their relationship starts on a sour note with Nandu hating Karthik's straightforwardness and overtly flirtatious behaviour to impress her, despite her reluctance to fall in love with him. But then, since it's a love story, miracles are bound to happen and by a sudden twist of fate, both their families meet each other and decide to get Karthik and Nandu married. The rest of the story is about how Karthik changes as a person to impress the girl he loves and how, in the end, Nandu discovers the truth about Karthik.
At a thematic level, Oka Laila Kosam sounds like a story which just can't go wrong. After all, it's all been done before. The opening scene of the film depicts Naga Chaitanya rejecting job offers to break the monotony of life and deciding to travel the world, much to the dismay of his father. And when he comes back from a six-month long tour across Europe, he's still looking for answers about what he wants to do next. If you think he's going through an existential crisis, like most people in their early 20s go through, you couldn't be more wrong, because there's a love story waiting to bloom in his life. Nandu personifies everything that Karthik loves about a woman and she inspires him to write a book.
While it's never clear whether Karthik wants to be a writer to prove to his father that he has clarity about what he wants to do in his life, we might as well conclude that 'falling in love' is the most liberating experience which Karthik has gone through in his journey to find happiness. The film doesn't quite dig deep into what's going through Karthik or Nandu's mind, except for the fact that Karthik wants Nandu to understand his love for her while Nandu runs away from it. All this is staged like a Tom and Jerry-esque struggle before both of them break down and realise how much they are in love with each other.
After watching Naga Chaitanya in films like Yem Maya Chesave and Manam, his role in Oka Laila Kosam feels like a cake-walk and he's quite at ease. There's no magic in the air, but it's a treat watching him on screen, along with his co-star, Pooja Hegde, in the first half of the film. Pooja Hegde is quite a revelation in her role as a daddy's little girl and she expresses the confusion between abiding by her father's decisions about her life and her hatred for Karthik quite well. At a run time of 150 minutes, it feels like the conflict between Karthik and Nandu has been stretched for far too long and there lies one of the biggest problems with the film. Among others, it's Ali who shines the most in his short-lived role.
Andrew's cinematography is beautiful and Anup Rubens' work is quite impressive, although they don't quite camouflage the dreariness of the second half. Director Vijay Kumar Konda shows good spark in his approach to storytelling when he establishes the characterisations of the two lead actors, but in the end, the film leaves you wanting for more. Oka Laila Kosam is a simple love story which doesn't quite leave you with a big smile on your face, but it has enough mojo, if you are a big sucker for romance. After all, there's nothing more comforting than a happy ending in a romantic film.