What’s in a love story? Aren’t most fairytale love stories based on the idea of “Boy-meets-girl, they fall in love, and then, they live happily ever after”?
But what if there was another dimension to this template? What if the girl falls in love with not one, but two men at the same time? This is the premise of a new web-series Mana Mugguri Love Story, created by Nandini Reddy, and like the title suggests, the series follows the life of a young girl Swathi (Tejaswi Madivada) and how she is forced to choose between two men who are madly in love with her.s
Directed by Shashank Yeleti, the series throws light into the mind of a confused girl, who can’t seem to choose if she should have coffee or tea, chilly sauce or tomato sauce, to name a few instances. Nandini Reddy, who wrote the series, extrapolates this confusion to something much bigger and in the process, toys around with the idea that unless you know who are and what you like about yourself, you can never really choose the right thing or person. Mana Mugguri Love Story doesn’t reinvent the wheel with respect to its genre and it doesn’t even push its characters into a complex set of incidents. What it does, rather effectively, is give us characters who are quite relatable and quirky at the same time.
Swathi (Tejaswi Madivada) is the personification of naiveté and looks vulnerable; however, she is smart enough to not let anyone take advantage of her. In the beginning of the series, when the story starts in Vijayawada, we are told that Swathi wants to go to a different city to work. It’s her excuse to escape the notion of getting married, at least for sometime. Her overbearing parents, played by Raj Madiraju and Aishwarya, finally give in to her incessant demands, but they force her to stay at a relative’s place in Hyderabad. And right from the moment Swathi lands in Hyderabad, she begins to discover a life that’s quite different from her own. She’s surprised with how her roommate Swara (Mounima) manages to present a traditional image of herself in front of her landlord, but once she’s all alone in her room, she transforms into an urban chic. She’s equally surprised when she goes to her workplace, an advertising agency, where each employee has his/her own set of idiosyncrasies.
One of the most striking aspects of Mana Mugguri Love Story is how Nandini Reddy and Shashank Yeleti balance the idiosyncrasies of each of the characters with unveiling layer after layer of Swathi’s characterisation. After all, she isn’t as naive as she comes across in the beginning. Her zest for life is evident when she begins to talk about life back in her hometown, or even in terms of how excited she gets when she spends time gazing at stars. It’s this trait that makes her endearing to not just Surya (Navdeep) and Rishi (Adith Arun), but to everyone in her life.
The series also spends plenty of time building the relationship between each of the employees in the ad agency and it’s filled with quite a few colourful characters. There’s Sarala, who spends more time singing than doing her work; Giri, the office boy, who makes a quick buck from everyone by sharing information; Mutyalu, a middle-aged man, who is desperate to get married soon; and so on. There’s also Swara and Bunti (Hemanth), whose conversations with Swathi are a treat to watch. In fact, the series packs in quite a few gags without trying too hard and it finds humour even in the most mundane circumstances.
Despite all this, the series spends very little time in building the equation between Swathi and Rishi, Surya. As a result, when both of them confess their love for her, it seems abrupt to not just Swathi but also to the viewers. And by the time the series crosses its mid-point, the focus shifts to reaching a logical conclusion at the cost of some of the best quirky conversations and scenarios that keep us hooked in the beginning.
Tejaswi, who has so far been playing supporting roles in feature films, springs a big surprise as a Vijayawada-girl and her transformation is quite striking to say the least. Both Navdeep and Adith breeze through their roles with great ease. The supporting cast is terrific and each one of them, from Hemanth & Mounima to Ravi Teja, who played Giri, has done a wonderful job.
In the end, the whole confusion surrounding whom will Swathi choose between Surya and Rishi becomes secondary. This made me want to watch the second season and discover more characters in Swathi’s life, because there’s something quite comforting about watching a romantic drama which puts a smile on your face.
Mana Mugguri Love Story is now streaming on YuppTV.