Gopichand is an NRI who comes to India to marry Sruthi (Raashi Khanna), daughter of Raghupathi (Jagapathi Babu), a revered man in their village. But someone seems to be targeting the family and is out to kill them. Who is after the family and why is what 'Oxygen' is all about.
Krishna Prasad/Sanjeev (Gopichand) is a man who has sanskaari values despite being an NRI; at least that's what he tries to project with his plastic smile. But right from the start, something seems off about him and Sruthi (Raashi Khanna) wants to find out, if only to break off their upcoming nuptials. While his introduction begins with him getting off the flight in a pancha kattu avatar, a la Vijay in 'Adirindhi', things slowly seem to change. There's a scene in the first half where he creeps out his prospective in-laws by talking to his dead parents. And things go completely downhill by the time the film hits the interval, unveiling the seething anger that his character holds.
In 'Oxygen' none of the characters are ever what they seem. The calm and composed Krishna Prasad has a dukh bhari daastan in flashback that no one expects; the much-respected family has a dark secret that they have kept from everyone, including their daughter. The daughter, who seems to be a simple village belle, somehow turns into a computer expert by the end of the film, but we digress.
Gopichand's introduction scene is not the only similarity between 'Oxygen' and 'Adirindhi'. While 'Adirindhi' was an entertaining masala offering that focused on the corruption that lies rampant in the medical field, 'Oxygen' focuses on the illegal tobacco industry that is rampant in the country. While Vijay's character turns vigilante to root out the corruption there, Gopichand's character here does the same, if only to find the sole person responsible for it all.
Despite being high on emotions, action and melodramatic tropes in almost every frame of the film, 'Oxygen' fails to keep you hooked. Such films require powerful dialogues and visuals to make the subject work and the film lacks both. Certain events in the film never reach their conclusion and a few characters such as Veerabhadram (Shinde), Savirtri uncle (Ali), Vennela Kishore and Tagubothu Ramesh are inserted in for no reason at all. In fact, despite being a key part to the story, Jagapathi Babu's character, Raghupati is not fleshed out well, making you feel nothing for or against the character. A lot of potential just seems wasted in the film.
That said, there are a few twists and turns that seem bang on, giving viewers hope that the film will turn exciting any moment now. Unfortunately, that moment never seems to come. Gopichand is great in his role as a man who has not just his family, but a whole nation to avenge. His transformation from sugar-sweet nice to maybe-crazy to a man blind with cliched vengeance is convincing, which has more to do with his acting skills than his character development. Raashi Khanna plays the peppy village belle well, even though no one in the film seems to care about what she wants, be it her 'loving' family or the prospective groom. Anu Emmanuel's character as the dead fiance Dr Geeta seems to be written to evoke emotion, but the actress fails to deliver when needed.
All said and done, 'Oxygen' is a film with a story and cast that had a lot of potential, if only it was made differently. Steer clear of this one, unless you have some time to kill!