'Hi Nanna', produced by Vyra Entertainments, was released in theatres today. In this section, we are going to review the film:
Viraj (Nani), a photographer of repute, is a single parent. Mahi (Baby Kiara Khanna), his six-year-old daughter, wants him to narrate a bedtime story where there is a mother. Due to a heartbreak in the past, Viraj doesn't want to do that. Is it because of a wrong he committed to his wife, who is not in his life? Is the wife dead or alive? What is it about his past that keeps him from talking about his wife, depriving Mahi of a mother? That's what Mahi figures out after the entry of a woman named Yashna (Mrunal Thakur) into her life.
Nani was much better in films like 'Ante Sundaraniki' and 'Jersey'. If people think he is at his best in 'Hi Nanna', that's because the emotional beats of the story are straightforward, not because Nani adds a layer of depth to the script. Mrunal Thakur somehow over-emotes as if this is an epic story (a road accident, a terminal illness don't make your story epic. Sorry). Even when she broods over her mommy issues, she doesn't come across as emotionally vulnerable enough. Chinmayi's dubbing only makes her look even more generic. Jayaram is restrained. The rest of the performances barely look real.
Hesham Abdul Wahab's background music is good. Had it not been for 'Kushi', 'Samayama' would have been whistle-worthy. 'Ammaadi' is the best song in the album, while 'Odiyamma' is the weakest. Praveen Anthony's editing is ordinary. Sanu John Varghese's cinematography doesn't chip away at the emotional core.
Vyra Entertainments ensures good technical values for a multiplex movie of this sort.
The film expects the audience to soak into its poetic narration. However, the dialogues appear too sanitized for their good. The brand of dialogues mouthed by Priyadarshi (sample this: '35mm rod', 'Pose for me and Putin') doesn't sit well with the tone of the movie. When a character says that every photograph must tell a story, it comes across as an Instagram post by a celebrity photographer rather than a dear one speaking in intimate language. "I was in love with her friendship" and such lines would have sounded better had the romantic track not toyed with convenient occurrences in a tourist place.
Mrunal's character is given a certain personality in the beginning. She is someone who is not fond of pets. The initial momentum fritters away as the story progresses. That's also because she is reduced to a sob story in a dysfunctional family where the mother is always flustered and doesn't like her daughter to sing.
Aesthetics wise, the film revels in the rich guy's world of fine dining and finer living room interiors. The sophistication is plasticky. The story is of genetically happy souls with extraordinary willpower and a penchant to dine at star hotels every other day. The story seems to take place in tourist places rather than locations inhabited by real people.
It is also unsettling to watch elders discuss big stuff with a 6-year-old kid, who is made to look like she has the emotional maturity of a 60-year-old.
'Hi Nanna' is emotionally satisfying in the final 30 minutes. Otherwise, it is just about okay or even boring for the entirety of the first half.