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Is the role of a caregiver only limited to lifting, bathing, grooming and administering medicines?

‘Thozha’, the Tamil adaptation of French blockbuster ‘The Intouchables’, shows how a caregiver can become a friend and enrich the life of a patient.

It’s a case of mismatched friendship, however: One is a business tycoon and the other a petty thief out on parole.

What then draws Vikramaditya (Nagarjuna), a quadriplegic millionaire, to pick Seenu (Karthi), a man who barges into his room out of turn during an interview?

Not to forget Seenu’s annoying comments as he tries to flirt with Keerthi, Vikram’s beautiful secretary (Tamannah).

Seenu’s upbeat nature and his zest for life are in stark contrast to Vikram’s life in a wheelchair. But once Seenu enters Vikram’s house as his caregiver, Vikram’s life is not the same anymore.

From speedy drives in his car (until then Vikram used to be chauffeured around in an ambulance look-alike van) to late-night drives on a motor-bicycle and eating in roadside stalls, Vikram finds a caring friend in Seenu. Theirs is an unusual camaraderie that takes the story ahead and a new meaning in Vikram’s life.

Telugu director Vamshi has followed the same style of narration as was seen in the original French film.

However while keeping the core intact, he has made changes to suit the Indian audience. Vamshi’s screenplay is laden with emotions. Enhancing the film’s appeal are director Raju Murugan’s dialogues, especially the ones Seenu delivers. You will burst out laughing.

The two lead players, Nagarjuna and Karthi, are winners. Both get their characters right and inhabit them fully. We start feeling an affection for the characters. Nagarjuna acts mainly with his face and voice, communicating his emotions well. Karthi’s Seenu is convincing. I enjoyed the moments when Seenu decides to become an artist after Vikram manages to find a buyer for one of his supposedly abstract works.

Vikram’s secretary Keerthi is more classy than the secretary in the original film. Tamannah is gorgeous and her scenes with Karthi are hilarious. Despite the length of the film, there is never a dull moment. Late Malayalam actress Kalpana, as Vikram’s housekeeper, leaves her mark in her Telugu debut.

Without punchlines, without action sequences that send people flying and with just one romantic duet, here is a film that is enjoyable.

This buddy tale is not a figment of someone’s fancy, either, but is based on the real-life story of a French aristocrat Philippe Pozzo di Borgo and his Algerian care-giver, Abdel Sellou. The Telugu version is titled, ‘Ooppiri.’