Nee Enge En Anbe - Movie review

Nee Enge En Anbe - Movie review

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'Happy days' director Shekhar Kammula has attempted to give his own take on the Bollywood cult film 'Kahaani' in Tamil and Telugu . Well, I wont find fault with his intentions at doing it, but has his version lived up to the name of its original? Far from it, I would say.


As a stand alone movie, ‘Nee Enge En Anbe’ is not a substandard one at all, especially for those who watch it first without knowing anything about ‘Kahaani’. Yes, the flaws and imperfections are all there. In fact, NEEA is anything but perfect. But for an industry starved of quality movies which doesn’t objectify its female lead in the name of romance and duets, it is definitely a commendable effort. But the problem crops in when you dwell deeper and realize that the film fails to engage us for more than half of its running time because of some shallow characterizations, humdrum acting performances and complete lack of ‘ambiance building’. The staging at Hyderabad, the strange dialect and lack of lip sync in many sequences and crucial dialogues being voiced in Telugu without subtitles do not help in lending the much hyped about ‘authenticity’  or ‘nativity’ to the remake. So, in the absence of anything fresh being added to the original, the purpose of remaking it (other than the commercial reason) comes under fire.


The argument that it’s not fair to compare this with the content-wise superior ‘Kahaani’ also doesn’t hold good because barring a few scenes and a key twist, the film is almost the same as its original. Even many of the characters’ names have not been changed. But, the director seems to have taken the sensibilities of the Tamil audience for granted as he has sacrificed the scenes dedicated to ‘atmosphere escalation’, for the sake of including unnecessary scenes which don't appeal at all.  The mawkish ‘mother sentiment’ scene, the brazenly manipulative opening episode and the scenes involving the licentious police officer are all segments, which the film could do better without. If the intent of those sequences were to bring in a ‘native’ feel, sorry Sir, you have my deepest sympathies. To be honest, its tough not to wonder if Kolkata would have felt more ‘familiar’ in the Tamil version than what Hyderabad looks and feels like!


The first half of the movie seems like an assemblage of misfit sequences which struggle to make sense. There is absolutely no rise of stakes, nothing to sustain the interest of the viewer.  Those already familiar with the script do get an idea of the happenings on-screen, but for those uninitiated souls, its like trying to fit together asymmetrical pieces of a puzzle. It could have been a plus if only the director had worked more on making his scenes ‘gripping’ and focused on detailed character development, but alas! The Tamil speaking cop character ‘Sarathy’ (played by Vaibhav) who instantly connects to the lead lady and helps her out, falls short of becoming a hit because of some bad writing, abrupt script developments and some uninspired acting. ‘Bob’, the tastefully written contract-killer character in the original, turns out to be a dud in the remake with no efforts taken to establish his ‘alter-ego’ of a dull dumb person who gets constantly reprimanded by his boss. Here, Sarathy is just another friend. Bob is just another assassin, except for his innocent looks. Had Sekhar come to a conclusion that the people over South don’t give a damn about character arcs of supporting artistes? Sad! What's the deal with changing things which aren't flawed in the first place?


Pasupathy, however breathes in lots of freshness and fire to his character of ‘Khan’- the encounter specialist with an attitude. His interactions with many of the other characters are what makes the second half of the film ‘engaging’ in parts. Nayanthara who plays the lead character ‘Anaamika’ enacts like she had been hit by a soporific arrow, every time the clapboard snapped. She does eventually wake up and tries to redeem herself with her intense eyes, but by then its too late. Another talked about aspect of her character not being pregnant in this movie was explained by Sekhar, saying he didn’t want to use it as a cheap ploy to extract ‘sympathy’. Well, at least for me, the ‘pregnancy’ deception in Kahaani worked out well and I thought it was rather chopped out for the sake of convenience rather than any sincere purpose. Here, ironically the sympathy angle is forced upon us using cheaper stunts. Nayan walks around in rosy cheeks and ‘kajal’ lined eyes for most of her search, and I think it would have been preposterous on her part, trying to convincingly pull off a gestational trick without seeming overtly artificial. In an almost riveting sequence in the movie, Nayan in an altercation with the rude Pasupathy quips about her disinterest in her looks when she is in a frantic hunt for her husband.  Even as she says this, you could detect the layer of tear-resistant foundation beneath her blemish-less skin and shining lips, and all you could do is ‘smile’! Nayan, you are certainly more capable than this. Why the hesitation in coming out of your comfort zone, when you have landed such an author-centric role?


The action sequences are mediocre and sometimes backfire because of poor editing and absence of the suspense element. The shocks and disclosures along the way fail to muster the required response because of some lackluster writing. The character of the animated hotel receptionist helps to lighten the proceedings once in a while, but the film shines more of ‘inadvertent’ humor than intentional. The climactic twist which was not in the original is not terrible, but at the end of it all, we are left with a lot of questions unanswered.  The mystery though solved on-screen seems incomplete in our heads with lots of loose ends. The director could have had an eye on these key issues. Cinematographer Vijay.C.Kumar has done an awesome job in bringing a sense of reverent grandiosity to the screen, but much of it never gets utilized. Maragadhamani’s vibrant background score sometimes serves to notch up the barely existent tension, but at other times it is too loud and jarring.


As a female-protagonist oriented investigative thriller, Nee Enge En Anbe is certainly not a bad film, especially post-interval. Yes, it has hell lots of inadequacies, but that doesn't make it ‘mind-numbingly’ boring or inane fare. However as a remake, it is nowhere near the brilliance and film-making finesse of Kahaani.  I would recommend you give this a skip and watch Kahaani instead with subtitles (in case you don’t know Hindi), for a richer and fulfilling experience.



Mani Prabhu

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