Cinema

Nenu Sailaja: Feels like a good start

Keerthy Suresh and Ram in 'Nenu Sailaja'

Keerthy Suresh and Ram in 'Nenu Sailaja'  

Though the film doesn’t tell a radically new story, soak in the milieu created by Kishore. For, the little joys are rare to find.

A little girl, Sailaja, is upset that her father (Sathyaraj) who is out of town on work doesn’t make it home for her birthday. Instead, he sends her a birthday gift, a ring that is one size too big for her. She weeps and throws it away. A boy, Hari, picks up the ring, ties a thread, slides it down a long twine and it reaches her window. The re-sized ring fits her finger and she beams. Years later, the girl recreates this sequence for an ad film. Nenu Sailaja is a throwback to innocent romance that blooms in the countryside.

Sailaja (Keerthy Suresh) doesn’t long for that boy but remembers his gesture and her happiness thereafter. The distance between her and her father remains to be bridged. Hari (Ram) remembers her fondly, regrets that he never told her how much he loved her. He doesn’t want to repeat that mistake ever and never misses a chance to express his love to any charming woman he comes across, only to be spurned.

Director Kishore Tirumala throws Sailaja and Hari together again, making them cross paths through a series of convenient incidents. Hari takes it as an act of destiny. The lead actors are good, the cinematography (by Sameer Reddy) is pleasing on the eye and the background score playfully rises and ebbs according to the situation. So though the film isn’t telling us a radically new story, we give in and soak in the milieu created by Kishore. These little joys are becoming rare to find.

The families of the two protagonists define who they are. Hari has a twin sister (Srimukhi) and the siblings have grown up in a house where they don’t have to think twice before sharing their thoughts with their parents (Naresh and Pragathi). This transparency is sorely missing in Sailaja’s family and becomes a stumbling block for the romance. The mother (Rohini) has forever tried to hold the house together that she doesn’t notice something amiss as the daughter’s wedding draws closer.

While watching many a love story unfold, we would have exclaimed in exasperation that a whole lot of drama could have been avoided if only the characters discussed things up front. This film explains that fragile relationships need to be handled with patience and tact.

The latter portions unfold in a sort of DDLJ way with Hari befriending Sailaja’s family members, but the bride here isn’t waiting to be taken away. There’s an interesting angle to the story that comes through Sailaja’s brother (Prince). This character could have been handled with a little more depth. The plot focuses so much on the complex father-daughter bond that one never gets an idea of how the son responded to the father.

Ram seems to be enjoying moving away from formula masalas and handles his role with confidence. Keerthy Suresh makes a refreshing entry into Telugu cinema with an understated, mature performance. One just wished she had more to do in the latter half than quietly brood. The actors playing the parents of the protagonists are an asset to the film. It would have been even better if Sathyaraj had dubbed his own voice. The brief face-offs between Sathyaraj and veteran actor Vijaykumar are charming. Dhanya Balakrishna and Chaitanya Krishna feature in extended cameos.

This is a simple story of relationships, beautifully told. A few frills, like a song in front of a dhaba and a needless land shark of a villain don’t gel with the rest of the film. Ignore these and Nenu Sailaja is a feel-good film to start the year with.

Nenu Sailaja

Cast: Ram, Keerthy Suresh, Sathyaraj and Rohini

Genre: Romance

Direction: Kishore Tirumala

Music: Devi Sri Prasad

Plot: The hero has to iron out frictions in the heroine’s family to win her over.

Rating: ***

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 3:58:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/Nenu-Sailaja-Feels-like-a-good-start/article13975121.ece

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