Bandi Surya Prakash is a happy-go-lucky youngster from a lower-middle-class family, who grows up to be a software engineer in a corporate firm. His parents find him a match, Meenakshi and the two instantly hit it off. The newly married couple registers a flat under their name and dream of a rosy future ahead. There’s trouble in the paradise when a cop Kishore falsely implicates Surya as the murderer of social activist and advocate Rajagopal. The judiciary fails Surya despite him claiming innocence. After a personal tragedy and spending nearly five years behind bars, he has a new hope in the form of lawyer Aadhya who vows to fight for him.
Naandhi is a common man’s fight against the system and the judiciary that cripples his life beyond imagination. The courtroom drama, positioned as an image-makeover for its lead actor Allari Naresh, has a story brimming with potential. If only intent was the yardstick to evaluate a film, Naandhi would have had a first-class score. First-time filmmaker Vijay Kanakamedala infuses the simplistic narrative with hefty melodrama, sentiment and several cinematic liberties. This is a film that needed more attention to detail and racier treatment.
In the first hour, the romance between Surya and Meenakshi lacks any spunk. The sacrifices of a middle-class family are exaggerated. In many parts, the emotions are overblown like a television soap and Naandhi takes a convenient route of painting the entire police force as corrupt. The film meanders at a slow pace until the entry of Aadhya, an advocate who promises to prove Surya’s innocence in the case. Naandhi is so invested in the struggle of the protagonist but everything else around him is a blur.
At times, the behaviour of the characters is rather eccentric. When parents realise that Surya isn’t the culprit, they don’t hire a lawyer but go on a three-day fast and even try to burn themselves to death. Why wouldn’t the so-called friends of the protagonist or his beloved even appeal for bail over five long years? The judge doesn’t even give any chance for the accused to speak and the courtroom proceedings are illogically filmed. As if to make up for the sluggish start, the post-interval sequences progress at a quick pace.
The director and the advocate nearly become brand ambassadors for IPC Section 211 in the latter half. The focus on a section that helps the common man fight against those who falsely charge them with an offence is interesting, but the writer hasn’t done his homework well. The dialogues sound like a lecture and aren’t conversational at all. Even on his deathbed, Surya delivers a sermon to a judge about ensuring justice to the common man in the country. Naandhi had all the ingredients of being an engaging film and lacks depth in the treatment. The solid performances salvage it to a certain extent.
Allari Naresh fits the part of a vulnerable common man with a relentless spirit. Despite the heavy drama, he tries hard to underplay his segments and goes an extra mile to lend authenticity to the portrayal. Varalakshmi Sarathkumar has some distance to go before her Telugu diction is labelled perfect. She sinks her teeth into the part of an enterprising advocate with much enthusiasm and her strong screen presence is an asset to the film.
Harish Uthaman sleepwalks through a negative cop role tailormade for him and so does Vinay Varma, as sharp as ever, in the part of a crooked politician. Devi Prasad goes overboard as the protagonist’s father while the likes of Praveen and Priyadarshi pitch in with decent performances despite the poorly written roles. Navami Gayak doesn’t have much to do in the film.
Music and other departments:
Sricharan Pakala’s music isn’t at his best here barring a couple of songs. The background score is on the louder side too. Sid’s cinematography is anything but out of the box, though it serves the purpose of the film. The dialogues are written with good intention although it is cinematic or overly sentimental at places. The film feels long by at least 30 minutes.
With more focus on detailing and minor logics, Naandhi would have been a much better film.
- Good performances
- Solid premise
- Story, Direction
- Dull screenplay
- Overdose of melodrama
- Too many cinematic liberties
Review by Srivathsan Nadadhur