Pushpaka Vimanam: For a comedy about a simpleton whose wife elopes a couple of days after their wedding, Pushpak Vimanam is surprisingly amusing ,sometimes even eliciting a loud chuckle if not a roar of hilarity from the audience.
In fact the audiences were giggling right through the gags as Telugu cinema’s Amol Palekar Sundar(Anand Deverakonda) tried to hide his wife’s disappearance from his colleagues at the school where he teaches. He even packs his own lunch with food ordered from a restaurant and pretends it’s his wife’s dabba.
Then the teachers led by the bullish principal decide to come to Sundar’s home for lunch…to meet his wife and have her khaana.This is where Sundar hires a small-time actress(Saanve Megghana) to pose as his wife for just one afternoon…and no,they don’t fall in love and live happily after.
The most gratifying aspect of debutant director Damodara’s dishy script is that it is always ahead of the audiences’ expectations. There is a furiously feisty feeling to the marital farce which goes a long way in keeping our interest alive right to the end.
I also liked the seamless transition from marital comedy to a whodunit . From, ‘Why did the wife run away?’ the narration transforms into ‘Who killed the wife?’ And we were still watching.
One of my favourite sequences in the film is where Rekha, the intrepid actress is called a prostitute by a boorish cop, and she gives it right back to him all the while pretending that she was just showing him a sample of her acting talents. Episodes such as this tell us a lot about how men perceive working women, married women, single women, women per se…..Sundar, in all innocence calls a colleague at school TT, short for Telugu Teacher, even though she doesn’t like it.And on their wedding night he pissses off his wife by wondering aloud if she is a virgin.
This is a film with a soft heart . There are no real villains, except maybe the murderer who seems too muddled to be a trueblue criminal.
The sequences have a robust rhythm as they flow from one plot point to another.The music is well appointed to surface as a kind of cute ‘geek’ chorus with dancers forming a ballet of quaint burlesque whenever the director wants to emphasise the hands of fate in man’s unexpected progress in life
The denouement did leave me dissatisfied. But when has Indian cinema ever selected a killer who is truly convincing? Be thankful that this comedy actually works , if not in its entirety than in parts. Pushpak Vimanam is a film that Hrishikesh Mukherjee could have made. It is intelligently written and it knows where to draw the line between the grim and the grin.