Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi movie review: Tharun Bhascker’s buddy film is no Pellichoopulu, but delivers nonetheless

Hemanth Kumar

June 29, 2018 11:52:51 IST

3/5

Two years ago, when Tharun Bhascker made his directorial debut with Pellichoopulu, the film was akin to petrichor after a long dry spell. The breezy romance between its lead actors, and Tharun’s writing created a certain magic — not to forget the witty conversations between Vijay Devarakonda, Priyadarshi and Abhay's characters that became an instant hit with the youth. It is tempting to draw parallels between Pellichoopulu and Tharun’s latest buddy comedy, Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi; however, Ee Nagariniki Emaindi is no Pellichoopulu. It doesn’t even wander into the same space.

ENE is about a bunch of friends who go down memory lane, reliving their dreams and facing their deepest fears.

In college, Vivek, Karthik, Kaushik, Uppu dream of making short films, but things don't go as planned. Four years later, they meet again and fate gives them a chance to fulfill their dreams. It’s as much a story about friends as it is about the journey of aspiring filmmakers. At some point, you wonder if Tharun Bhascker dug too deep into his own life (he started out as a short filmmaker) to bring alive the dilemma and fear of failure that one goes through in the initial stages. For that matter, it could have been any aspiring filmmaker’s autobiography, where there’s heartbreak, confusion about he future, parental pressure, financial constraints at home — among other things. That Tharun touches upon all these inevitable aspects of a filmmaker’s life makes Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi — almost — an ode to the passion and faith that youngsters have in their dreams.

For a film whose storyline seems simple enough, ENE packs in a lot of layers and is unpredictable at every juncture. It all boils down to how Tharun Bhascker structures the narrative. Yes, there’s a beginning, a middle, and an end; however, unlike most Telugu films, the narrative isn’t broken into blocks which usually make it easier for us to follow a character’s journey. Two of the back stories, especially those featuring Vivek and Karthik, themselves feel like mini-movies. It’s this drama and the emotional bond between them, that holds their friendship — and also the film — together. Tharun has his own way of introducing and familiarising us with the lead characters, and it takes a while to get used to the tone of the narrative.

Only at the end of the first act does it hit you that this isn’t a buddy comedy where the friends end up solving their issues in the course of a road trip to Goa. Of course, that happens as well, but it isn't what the plot is about. This story is about how delicate relationships are — even the deepest friendships. When everyone pins their hopes on Vivek, he leaves them in the dark and hides behind his sunglasses. It’s only much later that we find he’s using this as a tool to become invisible — this is his way of facing the world.

Poster for Ee Nagariniki Emaindi

Poster for Ee Nagariniki Emaindi

ENE is unpredictable in terms of how each scene progresses and Tharun Bhascker breaks away from a lot of cliches and template-driven scenarios to make his point. It’s also quite possible that this approach has complicated the characters’ journey to the conclusion. Every conversation is treated like banter and we, the audience, are treated like invisible guests at the same table. It’s refreshing, but the moment you flip away from this illusion, you also realise how verbose the film is. There are so many beautifully written lines that you might not even remember because each of the characters talks so much! There are times you question whether a scene or dialogue is really necessary? There’s so much happening in every scene that you don’t know how it’s going to end and what it might lead to. Maybe it’s also about living in the moment and not thinking about the aftermath?

It would probably be a tad misleading to label ENE a comedy film because it has plenty of emotional heft, without ever veering into melodrama. In one of its most memorable scenes, Vivek confesses the reason he doesn't want to confront his fears — and it might possibly resonate with your life too. Without revealing much more about the film, it must be said that ENE mirrors our lives and speaks our language, especially the bromance among its lead actors: Vishwak Sen (Vivek), Sushanth (Karthik), Abhinav (Kaushik), Venkatesh (Uppu). While Abhinav steals the show with his witty dialogues, the biggest surprise is Sushanth, who is the voice of reason in the gang. Vishwak brings a lot of raw energy to the equation, whereas Venkatesh plays a faithful friend. Newcomer Simran Choudhary shines in her limited screen time, and Anisha Ambrose makes a good impression.

The film’s sound design, Niketh’s cinematography, and Vivek Sagar’s music bring alive Tharun’s writing, even when the narrative meanders. In the end, Ee Nagaraniki Emaindhi belongs to Tharun Bhascker, who is very honest in what he wants to say and packs the film with many interesting ideas. For instance, the proposal scene between Vishwak and Simran is a joy to watch, and so is Abhinav’s attempt to persuade Vishwak to change a particular scene in a short film. And yet, you're left with the sense that the stakes are too low, and the friends' conflict takes a backseat. Instead, we are left with the characters' banter and to connect the dots in our own lives.

Ee Nagaraniki Emaindhi is fun while it lasts. At the same time, it expects you to keep up with its narrative and pace, and work towards understanding the motives of the characters. It’s like a dream — you’ll go through all sorts of emotions for a while — but once you wake up, you’ll only remember traces of that which you dreamt. But it does make a strong case to conquer your deepest fears — especially apprehensions about failure. You don’t necessarily have to be a short filmmaker to understand that, but if you are, this is as close as anyone can get to telling your story.

Updated Date: Jun 29, 2018 11:52 AM