Sunday, October 18, 2009

Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana - the one Siddharth film to rule them all.

Today I had the fortune of sitting down with some friends of mine and making them watch Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana, the Telugu super-hit from 2005. My friends have seen tens of Indian films by now, but I don't think any of the films they'd seen so far could have prepared them for what was coming: a wonderfully romantic, funny, visual, glorious masala film. I can't believe I haven't discussed it on this blog yet, so allow me to correct that now.

It's one that even some mostly-exclusively-Hindi-film-watching people have made the effort to seek out and watch, and I'm very glad about that. This film is just such a gem and very accessible to people who like Bollywood. NVNN (or NVNV as it's sometimes abbreviated) takes its influences from Bollywood classics, such as DDLJ or Maine Pyaar Kiya, after all.

So the story is what you can imagine, based on the influences; rich NRI boy Santosh (Siddharth) returns to India for a wedding of a childhood friend, whose best friend is Siri, a girl of good heart but modest wealth (Trisha). He's wild and flirty and gets on her nerves, but of course, they end up falling in love anyway. As beautiful and strong as their love is, it still faces the challenge of convincing her brother (Srihari) that the NRI boy is good enough for his precious younger sister.

Of course, it goes without saying that the above plot description is extremely "bare bones". There is, in fact, a great amount of detail woven into the otherwise stereotypical masala script. The reason why the brother feels discontent towards rich people, for example, is demonstrated in the beginning of the film. That's not to say everything is incredibly original, but something about the script is so thought-through that it works splendidly.

Santosh at the beginning of the film is what some people would call annoying, what I call hilarious and what could be described as "kid on an extreme sugar high". He's hyperactive, playful, loud, and I suppose his shows of physical affection are meant to highlight the fact he's "westernized". Nevertheless, I loved him from the get go. The love story develops believably, there's mischief but also a lot of sweetness, as the two get to know each other.

The film's general tone might be over-the-top with the comedy on the first half, but I adore it, and I continue adoring it when it smooths over and we get the more somber but still entertaining second half. My friends scoffed a little at the idea that a love that blossomed in 15 days may be so strong as to endure the trials placed on it on the second half, but these are the kind of masala premises you have to buy into. If you do, you're rewarded with a great movie.

Ostrich pants - when I knew I would love this film like nothing else.

What helps make the story a great ride is the amazing way the film is shot. To everybody and anybody who is perhaps tired of seeing foreign (as in, non-Indian) locales in your Indian films, you need to watch Southie films! The loving way Venu Gopal (if I'm to believe the back of the DVD box) has shot the countryside of India is worth noting. The songs, the costumes, just pretty much all the visuals, are lovely.

Which brings us to...

The music. Seeing as how this film is directed by a man whose name is synonymous with dance, it's no wonder it feels like the whole movie is in a way choreographed, danced more than it is acted. What struck me about Siddharth as an actor in this movie, and why I became a fan, was the physicality of the role (and I know that sounds like a pretentious thing to say about a masala entertainer but hear me out). He's a great dancer, and that shows, when he plays the physical comedy scenes, the hyperactive energy Santosh has on the first half, but also the more serious determinence we see in the character on the first half. The choreographies in the film are so wonderful, as well, intricate and imaginative.

Rewatching NVNN really makes me want to see Wanted, Prabhu Deva's Hindi directional debut. This man is capable of good things, so much is clear, but I'm really psyched about seeing whether he infuses a more straight-forward action flick with a touch of choreography, as he did with NVNN and its masala format.

And once again let me remind you that Prakash Ra-- I mean, Prakash Dad is in this movie. And while I think his later Dad roles have been more exceptional, this one stands as a damned classic Prakash Dad performance. Everybody needs a dose of Prakash Dad every once in a while.

I know not everybody is going to love this movie but it's definitely a special one, for me personally, but as I understand it, also in the history of Telugu cinema. This film brought life to the industry, giving it new talent, new energy, new gloss. A breath of fresh air. I won't argue whether Tollywood needed that, I'll simply say that I'm happy this film exists. So very happy.


Anonymous said...

I am also happy that this film exists.

I have now seen 5 films with Siddharth in them. Three of them follow a similar formula i.e. lovers having to overcome a unique obstacle -- and in the process, learn something about family values -- before being allowed to marry.

I love them all, but I think this one has the most beautiful cinematography and choreography. I think the story is better too, I found myself on the edge of my seat more often in this one than the other two.

For those who've seen Hindi films, comparisons to DDLJ are probably inevitable. I actually think this one is better!

ajnabi said...

This movie kicks DDLJ's ass. Sorry, but there it is, even though I thoroughly love DDLJ. Srihari beats Amrish Puri every day and twice on Sunday.

I can't believe you haven't written anything about it before either! It definitely ranks in my top 5 of Indian movies. Someday I'll actually have to write up that ranking and be sure I'm not consistently ranking like 11 movies in my top 5.

veracious said...

This certainly gives DDLJ a more modern, fresh spin. I adore both movies, can't really compare them in terms of which I enjoy better. And anon, definitely agree about the cinematography.

ajnabi - Hee, your top five can have 11 movies if you like. Who cares? ;)

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