Hola Venky!: Film Review – A bold but misdirected effort

Small movies don’t usually stand a chance when compared to the big-budgeted, star-studded ones that eventually rake in the moolah. So there’s no doubt that indie films rely on their audience and word of mouth to succeed. In the recent years, we have seen some tremendous movies that were either crowd-funded or shot on shoe-string budgets. Hola Venky! is one such film, shot with a budget of mere 10 lakhs by a three-member team (comprising the director, camera and sound guy). It certainly looks like an ambitious project. The problem, however, is that Hola Venky! has nothing to offer as a film. Emotionally, it is vacant and story-wise, it brings nothing interesting to the mix.

The movie follows the life of Venky (Roger Narayan), a divorced techie who lives in Mumbai and is set to get married for the second time. But just a week prior to his wedding, he is sent to the USA by his company for a fortnight. Here, he reconnects with his old college mates, only to find himself in world of pain and loneliness after a night of crazy drinking. But he finds his silver lining when he bumps into a private investigator named Inez (Sonia Balcazar).

It is clear from the get-go that Hola Venky! wants to capture the angst of an Indian visiting America for the first time. However,  it takes lot of effort to show that angst, thanks to extremely hammy acting from some of its key members. The movie also tries to force some done-to-death jokes down our throats, coming across as too desperate to find acceptance with the “urban audience”. The direction and editing also leave a lot to be desired.

Despite its pitfalls, Hola Venky! sneaks in some heart-touching moments, but they are so far apart, your eyes will be parched for something worthwhile to look at in the meantime. There are some great camera angles and casual shots at play that give the perception of looking at the world through the titular character’s eyes. The film also uses a decent soundtrack but again fails in the dubbing department. It is reminiscent of The Room in many ways, and that is not a good sign.

Why should you watch this film?

Hola Venky! holds its ground as a technically-sound film. The guerilla camera work and the breezy soundtrack give this film a fresh feel. The story, however, isn’t exactly fresh. It does little for the character of Venky, as all he does is stumble from one scenario to another. That said, this is a bold effort by director Sandeep Mohan. One that needs to be lauded and encouraged. Hola Venky! goes on to fortify the fact that movie-making is not about money all the time.

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