Nirmala Convent: Needed more homework

Roshan and Shriya in the film  

HYDERABAD: It’s always a challenge for a filmmaker to straddle something cute and mature while dealing with early-teen romances. In terms of the story and highlighting the gawkiness and uncertainties of that age , director of Nirmala Convent, G Naga Koteswara Rao is up to the task. While the innocence in the romance between Samuel (Roshan) and Shanti (Shriya) ensures some pleasant moments, the director falters in giving the story a cinematic appeal.

The film is set in an idyllic village Bhupatinagaram, where zamindari system is still prevalent. A farmer (L B Sriram- grandfather of Samuel) unwilling to sell his one-acre land to the zamindar Bhupati Raju, despite persistent demands, ends up being killed. It’s the love between the granddaughter of the zamindar and the grandson of the former that furthers the conflict in the narrative, with a finale in a Slumdog Millionaire-like setup. Definitely, a neat foundation for a tale that celebrates the victory of the underdog.

Nirmala Convent, both as a school and a title, acts as a backdrop for the young couple. The two use gestures, movie-riddles such as Venkatesh-Aarti Agarwal-Suhasini ( Nuvvu Naaku Nacchav), Chiranjeevi-Anjala Zaveri-Soundarya ( Choodalani Undi) to convey their fondness for each other. The director does well to not make them look outright silly. The A R Ameen-sung ‘Kotha Kotha Bhaasha’ does a nice job in taking their equation forward. The irritants emerge out of the romantic-triangle, the so-called ‘ thotti gang’ that accompanies Samuel all the while, the humour made out of an obese guy among them, and Thagubothu Ramesh’s ever-drunk avatar.

Given it’s a Nagarjuna-production, you spot regular references to his looks, films including King, Manmadhudu, Annamayya and even son Akhil. There’s an endorsement of Chiranjeevi’s social campaign (woven neatly) as part of the climax. The film’s resemblance to Slumdog Millionaire is obvious, especially the way most of the questions connect to the incidents part of Samuel’s childhood. If there’s anything that ails the film here, it’s the inability of the director to make the sequences feel real. The cinematic liberties feel a little too convenient and the charm wears out. The film coasts along smoothly with no major highs and lows, but there’s nothing memorable in it.

Roshan, post a brief appearance in Rudramadevi as the young Chalukya Veerabhadra, looks an assured actor on-screen. His body language oozes confidence with sharp dialogue delivery. Shriya Sharma, his counterpart and a popular child-actress, is asked to be a damsel in distress for a major part and does well for a beginner. Nagarjuna’s rendition of ‘Kotha Kotha Bhasha’ appeals, but his presence in the film hardly makes a great impact. Surya, Anitha Chowdhary and Satya Krishnan do justice to their parts. Some more homework and Nirmala Convent could have passed muster.

Nirmala Convent

Cast: Roshan Meka, Shriya Sharma

Music: Roshan Salur

Director: G. Naga Koteswara Rao

Rating: 2.5 stars

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