'Naandhi' released in theatres on Friday (February 19). Produced by Satish Vegesna and directed by a debutant, it is one of the most serious films that Allari Naresh has done in his career. Does 'Naandhi' strike the right chord? Is it a watchable crime-courtroom drama? We are going to tell you in this review.
The life of Surya Prakash (Allari Naresh), a software engineer, takes an unexpected turn when he is arrested by a cop (Harish Utthaman) in connection with a murder. Surya pleads innocence but to no avail. Five years pass without him being prosecuted. He never gets a chance to prove his innocence while rotting in jail. As he stares at a dark life ahead, Aadhya (Varalaxmi Sarathkumar) enters his life as a ray of hope. The duo, with the help of his friends (played by Praveen and Priyadarshi), wages a legal battle.
Less than a month after being seen in a typical role in 'Bangaru Bullodu', Allari Naresh is seen in a challenging, de-glamoured, distressed role in 'Naandhi'. His performance is the best part of the movie. Naresh looks the part, whether as a doting son, a tortured prisoner, or a fighter seeking justice.
Varalaxmi Sarathkumar is an embodiment of integrity in the film and the conviction on her face suits the role perfectly. Harish Utthaman aces the negative role, once again. But he is a bit too obvious. On the other hand, Vinay Varma is subtle. Devi Prasad gets one of the best roles of his career.
After composing for some of the most urbane films, Sricharan Pakala tries his hand at composing for a non-glitzy and gritty drama like 'Naandhi'. His BGM is right on the money. The songs are another plus. With able cinematography and the right run-time (146 minutes), the film gets two crucial departments right.
Debutant director Vijay Kanakamedala chooses a dark subject. He has done some homework on Section 211 of the IPC (pertaining to false charge of offence made with the intent to injure). Although the element is introduced after a good one hour, it hits the home instantly.
The film takes a five-year leap quite early on. One doesn't get to feel the trauma that Naresh's character went through all those years. A nude scene is shown as a substitute for years of his life in the prison. In 'Master', Vijay Sethupathi's story got a big intro that ran for 20 minutes. And he was the film's antagonist. Here, even the protagonist doesn't get that sort of an elaborate glimpse into his five-year term.
Vinay Varma's character is a bit shaky, given that he does so many routine things as a ba politician. He and his lackeys do some silly mistakes, which become the strengths of the victim-lawyer duo.
The courtroom scenes hold interest with the kind of arguments that Varalaxmi's character makes.
The film comes into its own in the last 20 minutes or so, complete with some effective elevation of the victim's resolve to get justice.
Watch 'Naandhi' with low expectations and it won't disappoint. Don't expect an intelligent courtroom drama. Suffice it to say that it has strong doses of emotional value.