It is fascinating to see how indispensable fight sequences are to Tamil cinema. That is the case not just with commercial cinema. It seems inconceivable for our creators to have a protagonist and not have him fight, no irrespective of the genre the film belongs to.
After all, can anyone be a hero if they cannot fight? Sarov Shanmugam’s debut 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 quite a simple premise. Professional dog breeder Fernando (Vinay Rai in yet another single-note villain character) asks his men to kill a blind pup from one of his dogs. The pup escapes the killers, and is be spotted by Arjun (Arnav Vijay), who adopts him. He hides the pup, Simba, from his family, which is already reeling under financial pressure. But eventually, the family and their friends rally around the pup, which brings them closer.
Despite its familiarity, the premise holds a lot of potential. Shankar (Arun Vijay) and his father (Vijayakumar) have a strained relationship; the financial problems add to the issues. But Shankar is clear about breaking the cycle with his son. He wants to support Arjun, even if it is beyond his means. The father and son duo even get a moment straight out of The Pursuit Of Happyness, where Shankar motivates Arjun to believe in himself.
It is a pity that the writing does not mine any of this. There is no set-up for the emotional conflicts which feel very superficial. We hear a lot about Shankar’s strained relationship with his dad, but we do not see much of it, except for one misplaced argument.
Simba needs an expensive surgery? A random doctor steps up to bear all charges. Simba is not allowed to participate? An influential ‘well-wisher’ pops out of nowhere and puts his reputation at stake. Simba needs a trainer? We suddenly learn that Shankar himself used to moonlight as a horse trainer. When Simba is disqualified from the contest, for valid reasons, the crowd begins to cheer for the dog — for no other reason other than Arjun’s plea for appeal. Even the organisers of a reputed dog talent show will bend their rules and let a blind dog participate. One of Arjun’s friends will have a police father, who has no other case to solve in town. How convenient!
Oh My Dog made headlines when the project was announced because it had three generations of a film family acting in it — veteran actor Vijayakumar, his son Arun Vijay, and grandson Arnav Vijay. It is the debut of the young kid. And for a film that revolves around Arjun, it cuts away from him way too often; whatever we see of Arjun feels too coached as well. However, he pales in comparison to Divya and Fernando. Shankar’s Divya has only one reaction to almost anything: melodramatic panic. Fernando has one too: cartoonish villainy.
Oh My Dog is predictable. Right from the first frame, you can guess how the film will unfold next. And there is no doubt about how the film will end. The only surprise we probably get is the degree of clumsiness. After all the contrivance, it is hard not to empathise with Fernando when he screams ‘What is this nonsense!’ with a puzzled expression. We truly feel ya bruh. We feel you.