Minnal Murali & Mail – two South Indian comedies that have it all figured out

It’s a ride from first to last, fueled by a sense of logistical fantasy – if that has any meaning – in which the obvious nonsense of a flying crusader is melted into a ground-level fearlessness born more of necessity than of vanity. Yes, this homemade superhero movie is overstaying its welcome. But you know how we are Indians. We never stop. And that’s how (aha aha) we like it.

Much further down the range scale, though a clutter breaker nonetheless, and barring a monstrously glaring factual error in the plot, To post in Telugu is a charming look at the naive innocence of the villagers of Kambalapally in Telangana where the computer has just arrived. The curiosity bordering on reverence of 18-year-old Ravi (newcomer Harshith Malgireddy) is not only amusing but also deeply moving, if you like rustic innocence.

The cleverly written script sweeps away all misconceptions about the computer: the only man in the village who owns a computer, believes that any shoe in the sacred room housing the precious sacred digital deity can cause a virus.

The computer becomes the pivot of an unusual but subtle humour, never wild, always tender. In one of many clever sequences, Ravi panics when the computer beeps to stop, and he doesn’t know where to find the electrical outlet to control the impending doom.

It could well be the Mail-gudi Days. And Harshith Malgireddy might just be Narayan’s common man in his youth. The new talent is really lovely. While Malgireddy is every inch the curious techno-ignorant, Manu Segurla as Ravi’s best friend is even better. Segurla’s casual causticity and biting sarcasm will kill you. If not, then he’s someone you don’t want to meet, especially if you can’t lend him money.

It has to be one of the best written comedies of Indian cinema of all time. There is only one fatal flaw. Characters are displayed using gmail. There was no gmail in the early years of the computer.

(This article first appeared in the National Herald on Sunday)