Director: Shekhar Kammula
Cast: Nayanthara, Vaibhav, Pasupathy
If it hadn’t been a remake of the widely acclaimed Kahaani, the stereotypes in Nee Enge En Anbe wouldn’t have been as glaring. Like the addition of a lascivious pan-chewing Police Commissioner who bluntly propositions Anamika (Nayanthara) at a party. Or the scene when the smitten Inspector Parthasarathy takes her home to his mother, who is on the lookout for a bride for her son. Shekhar Kammula’s changes to the script feel especially unnecessary when he had such a strongly scripted original to fall back on.
Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani was a compelling and taut suspense thriller, with finely etched characters. It packs in the essentials of a mystery – an exciting chase, an interesting group of supporting characters, and an insightful tussle between ego and instincts. Kammula’s Nee Enge En Anbe on the other hand, feels like a watered down thriller whose additions to the original serve only to trivialise it . In one scene, a policeman who has a crush on her takes Anamika to the mortuary to identify a man. She gets fidgety, throws up and they sit on a bench. He tells her that her bindi is missing and she takes her kajal and draws one. The exchange felt entirely out of context, drawing away from the core plot.
The film opens at Old Hyderabad in all its depth and charm – the palatial Mosques, narrow bylanes and the bangle bazaars. The film starts interestingly enough – a vegetable carton is dropped in front of a decadent house on a narrow lane, followed by a large sack. A group of men are inserting bombs in colourful kite spool winders. At a market fair a young boy buys the winder, perched over his dad’s shoulders starts flying his kite. Explosion. Anamika lands in the city looking for her missing husband, drives straight to a police station and befriends a Tamil speaking Inspector Parthasarathy who agrees to take up her case immediately. She stays in the same shady old hotel, Galaxy that her husband used to stay, and the search begins.
In Kahaani, we sympathized with the heavily pregnant Vidya Bagchi’s determination in searching for her husband. Here Anamika is not pregnant, giving Kammula the opportunity to add the formulaic lascivious cop, while making the character somewhat less mysterious. Anamika cries a lot, speaks her mind and is not above a little drama when needed. It’s a role that requires you to be sensible, adamant, vulnerable and sharp but despite looking the part in sensible Kurtis and bright red saris, Nayanthara fails to bring in the essence of mystery and métier in Anamika. She falters in the climax, though to be fair to the actress, the climax was poorly scripted.
Kammula’s casting is spot on – from the amusing owner of the Galaxy hotel to the villian Bob and the spontaneous child, the actors play their role to perfection. But it is Pasupathy’s sardonic Inspector Khan who emerges as the most entertaining of the lot. The hilarious exchanges between Khan and Sarathy, and his war of words with Anamika are standout scenes in the movie. After his indolent outing in Daamaal Dumeel, Vaibhav Reddy does well as as the mild mannered Sarathy .
In spite of the promise of the film not being a scene by scene remake of the original, predictability soon creeps in; and there is no thrill or suspense, and no sense of vindication during the denouement. MM Keeravani’s background score is soothing. Sharp cuts plays a key role in suspense thrillers but here it could have been crisper, especially the climax which feels like the weakest point of the film.
Just one more film that reiterates a pet theory of ours – classics should best be left alone.