Nanna Koochi review: Pranith Bramandapally's Telugu web-series is satisfactory, but lacks power

Karthik Keramalu

Feb,26 2018 09:22:29 IST

Niharika Konidela is back on the digital screen after two years. Her first series, Muddapappu Avakai, set a benchmark for digital content in Telugu language. Since then, more than two dozens of Telugu web series have hit YouTube and other streaming sites. The sheer number of makers who are experimenting with the format is staggering.

A still from Nanna Koochi. Image from Twitter/@TodayBoxOffice

A still from Nanna Koochi. Image from Twitter/@TodayBoxOffice

However, quantity seems to be the overriding factor here as most of the shows are trashy. Websites like Viu, YuppTV, Hotstar, Amazon Prime, and the just-launched Zee5 are all opening their doors to original shows in South Indian languages.

These media giants are following the Netflix model by producing originals to draw in new audiences. That’s a great move, but is that enough? I’ll pick that story for another day.

Now, let me bring your attention back to Pranith Bramandapally’s Nanna Koochi, a show that stars the real-life father-daughter duo, Naga Babu and Niharika as – well, no prizes for guessing – daddy-dearest and daughter-princess.

Naga Babu, who plays a doting dad named Anand, compares his daughter, Tara, to Juliet Rose in one of the scenes. If you’re wondering why a father would compare his daughter to a rare/expensive rose, you should know that his job involves running a nursery. His thoughts regarding life and love and everything in-between are borrowed from the world of plants and flowers. These are also the lines that stand out because they are rich in meaning.

And Tara, for her part, equates the relationship she shares with her dad to salt-and-pepper. She says salt-and-pepper are never separated; they are always together. We’ve seen fathers becoming mothers, and vice versa, to kids when one parent is absent from the family picture. The passing away of Tara’s mother at a young age brings the remaining members of the household together.

Pranith gives us examples of their closeness through a collage of interactions – Anand reading a love letter that Tara has received, the two of them enjoying alcoholic drinks like that’s what they are born to do, etc. The eight-episode series puts in a lot of caricaturish humor – the sort that tires you out easily – and emotional weight.

The humor doesn’t explode beyond a tiny “pop” as the staple comedian of the show, Jabardasth Rakesh, who plays Banti, disappoints. He comes across as a village bumpkin. His is a stock character used in films to attract laughs. This particular person’s innocence and his ways of dealing with problems are meant to crack us up.

This joker-type guy has been brought to the screen several times before – Happy Days, that was released a decade ago, had Rajesh (Nikhil Siddhartha), Kerintha had Nookaraju (Parvateesam), and the recent super hit, TholiPrema, had Raju (Hyper Aadhi). Nikhil and Hyper Aadhi pulled off their characters with ease in their respective movies.

Here’s a sample of the genre of comedy these kinds of characters deal with: Raju, while going to the restroom, in TholiPrema, says he’s going to “London” in London (the term “London” is used to refer to toilets in Telugu).

Doesn’t that wordplay create magic there? That brand of wit is severely missing in Rakesh’s dialogues. But, to an extent, the conversations between Sivaji Raja (who stars as Babu’s friend) and Naga Babu act as a balancing board. So, in a way, effective light-hearted banter flickers in the series.

Pranith must be interested in telling stories of marriages. His previous series, Muddapappu Avakai, centered on getting Niharika’s character married, and, in Nanna Koochi, he develops a concoction of love and doubts in the time of middle-age to get Anand married.

Neelya Bhavani puts in a fantastic performance as Parvathi. And the writing that has gone into fleshing out her character is, perhaps, the best thing to have happened to Nanna Koochi. Parvathi speaks from her heart and the portions where she confesses her love for Anand are filled with honesty. Unfortunately, she appears in a supporting role as the series doesn’t make room for her story to play out separately. It’s only when she’s with Anand, or Tara, that we get to see her.

Likewise, there’s Luv (Abhijeeth Poondla) who’s more or less used as a pawn by Tara to get back at her father for whiling away his hours with another person. Usually, web series are made with a limited set of characters and shot in fewer locations. We don’t get a whiff of the largeness – foreign locales, high-octane action sequences, a hundred extras in a song – of feature films. The details are embedded in intimate settings.

Take the element of jealousy that forms a big chunk of Nanna Koochi, for instance. It’s handled without any show of pomp. And that’s where this series scores. Tara’s frustration when her dad skips the weekend routine of carrom nights to spend a jolly evening with Parvathi is understandable.

Had there been more of Anand and Parvathi without the grime of unkempt humor, Nanna Koochi would have hit bullseye.

Niharika should stop channeling her inner-teenager. There isn’t any difference between her Muddapappu Avakai and Nanna Koochi avatars. Maybe, that’s what the beanie is for! That little fashion statement definitely works for her. But she should come out of her adolescent phase if she wants to star as an adult lead in future.

Similarly, Kaala Bhairava’s background score packs a solid punch. It’s pleasing to the ears and all the other senses. The theme music that pops up during the beginning and end credits deserve a lot of love and multiple listenings.

Nanna Koochi is one of the better Telugu web series even though its essence isn’t all that powerful in the face of Tamil series like As I’m Suffering From Kadhal and Livin’.

Updated Date: Feb 26, 2018 09:22 AM