Nee-Na Malayalam Movie ReviewFeature Film | U | Drama
Lal Jose's 'Nee-Na' talks of a bout of unrestrained passion that takes its toll on three human lives. With stimulated performances and a decorously sketched plot, 'Nee-Na' is a palpable story albeit told with grace.
Vinay Panicker (Vijay Babu) takes charge as the head of a leading advertising firm in Cochin, and is amused at the uncanny ways of Neena (Deepti Sati), one of his exceptionally capable creative directors. When it becomes apparent that Neena is in love with him, Vijay steps back with dire consequences. Meanwhile Vijay's wife Nalini (Ann Augustine)realizes that a squall is in the offing and braces herself to wade through it.
Somehow the definition of boldness for a woman in the film sounds quite misplaced, in that the daring woman that Neena supposedly is, is one who desperately tries to be more of a man, and less of a woman. There is a dreadfully irrational flashback of sorts that tells the story of a young girl who wanted to be a boy, and who turned out to be a rebel when she menstruated and discovered that she could never be one.
It is thus that we have a Neena who has evolved into a tomboyish young woman who is dressed in jeans and shirts and wears her hair short, rides a bike around and jumps compound walls. She is a self confessed alcoholic and smoker who ends up drunk in swimming pools and who has the local goon Jaljo (Vinod Jose) as her best buddy.
As much as all this sounds fascinating, it does not somehow strike me as imposing, since the streak of audacity that is to make Neena the odd thumb out looks more like a facade than a reality. As the real Neena emerges in the latter half, it becomes obvious that this impudence that had elevated her to the stature of an enigma of sorts was more of a bogus illusion that was brought about by her perpetual drunkenness.
On the contrary, the real attributes of courage are applicable more to Nalini, who assumes the role of the silent observer in this love tale, and who waits in eager and spirited anticipation for her bemused husband to return to her. She does not give in to the frailties that one expects of an ignored spouse, be it a man or a woman, and instead lets things take their course.
And Nalini is the real reason why Lal Jose's film manages to keep its head high above the water, and the best scenes in ''Nee-Na' belong to her. Nalini, the third angle in this romantic chronicle does not for a moment flare up, and takes to gorging with a vengeance to smother the blistering flames that have started eating her away from inside.
But she does not lose her composure, and waits. When Vinay finally walks into the apartment and into her arms, she is as poised as ever, all ready for him, and with a sigh realizes that the gale has finally passed by. It does appear strange then, that while Nalini and her intrepid spirit wallows through the tides and reach safely ashore, Neena finds herself on a distant land, holding on to her lover's jacket and a trove of memories that will continue to haunt her for a long time.
The tale of the other woman that has been already been narrated in multitude forms finds a relatively fresh expression in Lal Jose's film. However, it does not shake you up emotionally and the few asides that it takes the liberty to elaborate on - like the individual characters that appear on the de-addiction centre - takes the focus away from the central account.
'Nee-Na' ironically belongs not to Deepti Sati, but to Ann Augustine, who has brought in an astonishing intensity to her relatively short and seemingly trivial role. Of the three chief characters in the film, if you reach out to Nalini the most, its courtesy Ann and her terrific performance and the subtle nuances that she skilfully wedges into it. I would also hand it out to Vijay Babu who is outstandingly good and who leaves a momentous mark in this self-proclaimed tale of two women. Vijay is highly impressive in the emotional scenes, and puts his heart and soul into his portrayal of the confounded husband.
Deepti Sati, despite having the title role at her disposal, is relegated to the shade in 'Nee-Na', and her dubbing leaves a lot to be desired. The spark of a gifted actress is easily visible in several of her scenes, but her voice lets her down repeatedly, and is no match either to her persona or her body language. 'Nee-Na' is beautifully captured on camera thanks to Jomon T John, and has a luscious background score by Bijibal.
'Nee-Na' tells an obvious tale with an inevitable end-point already in sight, but steers itself clear of heavy handed sentimentality. I would overlook the schematic feel that at times robs the film of its fun, and look at it as a thoughtful movie that has benefitted from a brilliant director at its helm.
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