Arun Vijay’s sweet, sappy film mired in commercial platitudes and predictable writing

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Oh My Dog is predictable. From the first frame, you can guess how the film will unfold next. And there is no doubt about the ending of the film. The only surprise we’ll likely get is the degree of clumsiness.

It is fascinating to see how indispensable fight sequences are in Tamil cinema. This is not just the case with commercial cinema. It seems inconceivable for our creators to have a protagonist and not have him fight, no matter what genre the film belongs to.

After all, can anyone be a hero if they can’t fight? Sarov Shanmugam’s first film Oh my dog is the latest addition to the long list of films bogged down by commercial platitudes and predictable writing.

Oh my dog has a fairly simple premise. Professional dog breeder Fernando (Vinay Rai in another villainous one-note character) has his men kill a blind pup of one of his dogs. The pup escapes the killers and is spotted by Arjun (Arnav Vijay), who adopts him. He hides the puppy, Simba, from his family, who are already under financial pressure. But eventually, the family and their friends rally around the pup, which brings them closer together.

Despite its familiarity, the premise has a lot of potential. Shankar (Arun Vijay) and his father (Vijayakumar) have a strained relationship; financial problems add to the problems. But Shankar is clear about breaking the cycle with his son. He wants to support Arjun, even if it’s beyond his means. The father and son duo even get a moment straight out of The pursuit of happiness, where Shankar motivates Arjun to believe in himself.

Too bad the writing does not exploit any of this. There is no preparation for emotional conflicts that seem very superficial. We hear a lot about Shankar’s strained relationship with his father, but we don’t see much of it except for one misplaced argument.

Resolutions are extremely easy to find in Oh my dog. Everything in this universe can be achieved if Arjun sheds a few tears.

Simba needs an expensive operation? A random doctor steps in to bear all the charges. Simba is not allowed to participate? An influential “sympathizer” appears out of nowhere and puts his reputation on the line. Simba needs a trainer? We suddenly learn that Shankar himself worked in the moonlight as a horse trainer. When Simba is disqualified from the contest, for valid reasons, the crowd starts cheering for the dog – for no other reason than Arjun’s appeal plea. Even the organizers of a famous dog talent show will break their rules and let a blind dog participate. One of Arjun’s friends will have a policeman father, who has no other business to solve in town. How practical!

Oh my dog made headlines when the project was announced because it featured three generations of a cinematic family – veteran actor Vijayakumar, his son Arun Vijay and grandson Arnav Vijay. This is the beginning of the young boy. And for a movie that revolves around Arjun, it cuts it too often; everything we see of Arjun also feels overly driven. However, he pales in comparison to Divya and Fernando. Shankar’s Divya has only one reaction to almost everything: melodramatic panic. Fernando has one too: caricatural wickedness.

Oh my dog is predictable. From the first frame, you can guess how the film will unfold next. And there is no doubt about the ending of the film. The only surprise we’ll likely get is the degree of clumsiness. After all the artifice, it’s hard not to sympathize with Fernando when he shouts “What the hell is this nonsense!” with a puzzled expression. We really feel you bruh. We feel you.

Oh My Dog is streaming on Amazon Prime Video India.

Rating: *1/2

Ashameera Aiyappan is a film journalist who writes about Indian cinema with a focus on South Indian films.

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