Cabbages and Kings, a series of stories by O. Henry, each of which explores some individual aspect of life in a paralytically sleepy Central American town, while advancing some aspect of the larger plot and relating back one to another. Cabbages and Kings acts as an analogy to describe the variegated visual spectacle 1 – Nenokkadine, in terms of form and technique. I know analogies can be powerful persuasion tools and in this circumstance, I felt this one is a more appropriate vehicle for getting my point across.
Sukumar piles a layer after layer and peels them at frequent intervals to keep up with the pace and suspense of this psychological thriller. That’s for the cabbage part. Coming to kings, we have Mahesh, Ratnavelu, Devi Sri Prasad and director Sukumar helming the project. What else can we ask for?
1 – Nenokkadine is not quite what people thought it would be. It was largely thought that the director has conceived a new genre by borrowing the plot from Bourne Trilogy. But Alas! The predictions of gossip-mongers goes volte-face. Though Mahesh is not Jason Bourne, he has traces from various characters. There’s also a faint reference to some textbook films of Hollywood, but I keep this spoiler-free. The movie is a simple yet multi-layered tale of redemption where style becomes an indispensable part of the narrative. Sukumar has garbed the film with dark yet chic visuals rather than the candy floss that Telugu cinema loves.
Mahesh is brooding and vengeful as a rockstar. He does go overboard with acting at times but only when the character demanded it. We note that his face is perpetually clenched in a scowl. Mahesh is very effective as the kind of man so battered by life that he only sees the ugliness inside him. The way he pulled off the role with mental escapades is quite commendable. The highlight of the movie, for me though, is the interval bang where the character arc hits the pinnacle. His dance moves in You're My Love song are to die for. Kriti Sanon is apt in her role and the supporting cast is passable.
Sukumar has a gritty plot and a remarkable set of actors from whom he extracts convincing performances. There are few staples that are typical of a Telugu film and some of them gleam so much that you scratch your head in disbelief. However, the story-telling blurs the discretion between a mainstream ensemble and an art house classic. At times the emotional upheaval makes you drop your popcorn or spill your cold drink.
Devi Sri Prasad’s music adds soul to the film. The background score is top-notch and you can listen to some different sounds all through the film. Even the theme music has been used effectively.
The visuals of the film are way better than the story. This isn’t about frames filled with beautiful pictures, which we usually revere as great cinematography, but about mood and texture, beveled angles and all those elements that impinge us at an almost subconscious level. Here, cameraman Rathnavelu lends a master-stroke. Editor Karthika Srinivas complements them with some fine cutaways and freeze frames.
While 1 – Nenokkadine dishes out a fair dose of thrilling elements, but can’t be bracketed completely into that genre. Alongside bringing the grim realities of the world we live in, the film hovers on the extreme sides of the spectrum. Some action sequences are engrossing and some are far-fetched. Some tease you with a possibility of good action and then leave you high and dry. The director keeps his cards close to the chest for a larger part of the film only to keep the audience guessing till the climax. However, this experience gets hampered, at places, by a too-long narrative meld. The climax drags to the core leaving you impatient.
1 – Nenokkadine is the result of Sukumar working at his lurid best with total role commitment from Superstar Mahesh Babu. The film is an experiment and coming-of-age experience that redraws the line of horizon and surfaces a form of entertainment that’s hitherto pushed into oblivion. However, it fails to deliver the key moments that are archetypal for a commercial potboiler and may end up being a wet firecracker.
I am curious… Why the movie’s title is 1??
My Rating – Expectation – 8/10; Reality – 5/10view less