Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

“Why do girls turn out like this after marriage?”

The hero asks his wife in frustration after a fight. He courted her for just about two weeks before marrying her. Bro didn’t even know her long enough to have a fair idea of what she was like before the wedding.

Directed by Shiva Nirvana, the 2023 movie “Kushi” is a romantic comedy about a renowned atheist’s son falling in love with the daughter of a devout religious leader. Vijay Deverakonda plays the role of a new government official, Viplav, who chooses to take a posting in Kashmir, where he meets the beautiful Aradhya (Samantha Ruth Prabhu).

Thanks to the picturesque Kashmir setting, the cinematography is stunning in the first half-hour. However, the events detailing the circumstances under which the lead pair meet are completely unfunny. Aradhya and her friend are dressed in burqas to blend in with the locals when Viplav spots Aradhya and is captivated by her beauty. He then begins to stalk the girls despite their clear lack of interest. Aradhya’s friend concocts a far-fetched tale to scare away Viplav, but he insists on wooing the young woman. Neither the women’s fabricated story is funny, nor is Viplav’s behavior very romantic. You wonder why filmmakers are still using the regressive “stalk the girl until she caves in” formula! It’s quite unrealistic that a working woman like Aradhya falls in love with a borderline-creepy stranger so quickly that she is ready to abandon her family for a man she met a few days ago.

Vijay Deverakonda and Samantha Ruth Prabhu do make a good onscreen couple, and “Kushi” gives viewers a lot of sweet romantic moments between Viplav and Aradhya after they get married. Samantha as Aradhya is slightly naive, sensitive, and adorable. Vijay Deverakonda as Viplav is the generic male Tollywood hero who makes a few jokes, beats up a few guys, is sexist towards his partner, and says things like “women should be kept in their place,” but is taught a lesson in gender sensitivity by an older character.

With an almost three-hour runtime, “Kushi” has a bunch of songs that weren’t necessary and aren’t foot-tapping either. The “atheism vs religion” theme is half-baked, and the writers aren’t able to exploit the comic potential of their own material. Sachin Khedekar plays Viplav’s staunch atheist father, while Murli Sharma portrays Aradhya’s devout father. While the senior actors ace their roles, their characters don’t get enough space and are practically forgotten midway. The film steers towards being formulaic, with a bunch of emotional clichés thrown in between. The end message of the love story is quite commendable – love conquers all. But the journey to the climax is long, tedious, and unexciting.

If you like lead actors Vijay Deverakonda and Samantha Ruth Prabhu, stream “Kushi” on Netflix.

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