Happy Birthday Movie review: Honest attempt but futile

The film “Happy Birthday” looked very crazy from the very beginning of its promotions. The film unit did creative and unique promotions for the film so as to prepare the audience for the crazy characters present in the film. The character names, looks, and posters were very interesting. Even the trailer was cut in a non-linear manner, hiding the story and revealing only the crazy elements present in the film. Ritesh Rana, the director of the film, is back with his “Mathu Vadalara” team to deliver the best crime comedy film. The film hit the theatres and let us discuss how it fares at box-office.


The Defence Minister of India, Rithvik Sodhi (Vennela Kishore), passes a new law in the country that says every individual needs to carry a gun along with him. Implementing the gun culture, the entire nation gets hold of guns. The housekeeper (Naresh Agastya) of a popular hotel in Hyderabad is hired to replace a lighter in the film. Pasupuleti Happy Tripathi (Lavanya Tripathi) who attends a party in the same hotel, gets kidnapped by some guys who are looking for the same lighter. The significance of the lighter, how the lighter is connected to Happy, the housekeeper, and other characters, and why some guys are searching for the lighter are the interesting elements that unfold as the story progresses.


Ritesh Rana, much like his debut, his second attempt too is a comedy, but the setting and background give it a unique flavour. The whole comedy is set on a futuristic or rather unrealistic premise. It is what gives way to surrealism and hence the ‘Surreal Comedy’ as the makers proclaim. What if the public at large is given access to firearms is the foundation on which the whole narrative is built. The story, however, shifts to a glitzy hotel, Ritz, where all the action takes place. Ritesh populates the space with multiple characters with crazy quirks and antics. So we have Naresh Agastya, Viva Harsha, Gundu Sudharshan, and other artists doing bits and pieces roles who come in and out of the narrative. The idea of having the screenplay structured chapter-wise is nice. The whole thing could then be seen as extended shorts whereby the joining would result in the larger picture. Again, it’s an idea that is fine only on paper but comes across as messy on screen.

What makes matters worse is the chapters further belong to different genre styles. The Robbery track, The Sad App block, and The Jail sequences are just a sample. There are more, and everything is fused together with ludicrous and over-the-top scenes. It results in an uneven narrative. The first half appears passable as the narrative takes shape, and we are only getting introduced to the key players. The interval is alright and makes one eagerly look forward to what lies ahead. The second half sadly fails to deliver. A few funny moments aside, there is hardly anything that works. We can see that a lot of effort has been put in, but the writing lets the whole thing down. Too many characters don’t help the cause either, as the narrative feels all over the place. By the time one reaches the climax, it is exhausting. One wishes the whole thing to end soon. The stylistic choices and editing make one’s head spin in sheer frustration or boredom. Overall, Happy Birthday is a different attempt in the comedy genre. But, it fails to provide a cohesive narrative from the start to the end. It ends up boring and scratching our heads. If you like something truly out of the box, even if it is bad, give the movie a try.


Lavanya Tripathi, as the lead actress in the film, perfectly fits the role as Happy Tripathi. She got the opportunity to explore herself as an actress in this film in a unique setup and new dimension, and she perfectly made use of that. Happy is one such role that exposes us more of Lavanya’s acting side, showing screen performance rather than that of her regular glamorous side, limited to screen presence.

Ritesh gets everything he wants from Naresh Agastya yet again. Naresh, the “Mathu Vadalara” actor, scores the full marks in Happy Birthday too. Satya is the show-stealer of the film. His expressions, dialogue delivery, facial expressions, and what not, the audience will surely enjoy every bit of his presence and performance on screen. Vennela Kishore repeats his super comedy timing and form in this film too. In particular, the interview part is the highlight from his side. Also, the transgender characteristics are presented perfectly by him.


Ritesh Rana’s recognisable screenplay format from his debut film gets repeated for the “Happy Birthday” movie too. Firstly, the story idea itself looks very crazy, and the other story elements that are added on as the run time passes are much more interesting. The narration of the story from the character’s point of view adds strength to the screenplay of the film. We can observe a new dimension in the story whenever a new character is introduced, but the interesting move here from the director is that he connected the characters and infused them with the main storyline so perfectly. Ritesh explores this unique screenplay technique so greatly in the film. Here, Ritesh named the chapters after the names of the main characters. Rana’s dialogues and punches at urban society are satirical and hilarious. Ritesh also incorporated the satire on TV shows from his previous film, ‘Mathu Vadalara,’ and expanded on it in Happy Birthday.

Talking about the technical aspects of the film, the art department needs to be totally credited for the unique and unconventional set designs and patterns that match the film’s themes and elements. The production values are very good. Kaala Bhairava is on the same line as his director. Bhairava is the second hero of the film on the technical side. The background score is very suitable and apt. Cinematography by Suresh adds flavor to this colourful film.


Artist’s performances





Uneven narration