Nindha movie review: A great premise undone by weak execution

Writer-director Rajesh Jagannadham has an interesting concept, but the dreary filmmaking keeps the Varun Sandesh-starrer from being a compelling watch
Nindha(2 / 5)

Around the interval mark in Nindha, the film’s protagonist Vivek (Varun Sandesh) goes on a journey to a small village called Kandrakota, interacting with villagers about a murder that had happened a few years ago. All the people Vivek encounters have a different opinion about Balraju, the person he is keen to learn about. They all come with their own wounds and baggage, which not only impacts their decisions but also the course of life for someone else. Everyone knows each other and shares a common yet varying history. This brief sequence captures how sometimes the objective path of law and order has to be laid on a subjective terrain, which is the core of Nindha

Cast: Varun Sandesh, Surya Kumar Bhagvandas, Annie Zibi, Bhadram, Tanikella Bharani

Director: Rajesh Jagannadham

Nindha, on a conceptual level, holds a lot of promise. Written and directed by Rajesh Jagannadham, the film opens on a very promising note, with six men, most of them strangers to each other, finding themselves confined together in a discreet place. All these entrapped men stand to symbolise a section of society that is often an accomplice in the wrongdoings committed on a collective level. As they try to make sense of the situation, the director shoots the sequence with a sense of urgency and dark humour that captures the absurdity of it all. By establishing a murder case at the centre as a means to explore the many ways a society destructs itself, writer-director Rajesh Jagannadham displays an ambition that’s rare in debut filmmakers. There are also plenty of good moments in the first half, laden with impressive cinematography (by Rameez Naveeth) that help create an atmospheric quality. 

However, director Rajesh Jagannadham fails to do justice to his own concept. The film lacks the pacing or gradual elevation of tension required for a plot like this. As the narrative progresses, many logical loopholes appear, this keeps you from getting yourself immersed in the narrative. The film’s biggest undoing is the way it sets up the stakes around the central conflict. As the principal characters share their perspectives about Balraju, the film refuses to take an objective view of the proceedings, instead staging the tense conversations in a way where the audience is propelled to completely disbelieve the arguments against Balraju, almost anticipating an anti-climactic resolution to the problem at hand. As a result, the film gradually loses that edge of unpredictability with each passing scene.

Nindha is also established as a narrative where every character’s point of view is equally important to each other. However, once the protagonist comes clean about his intentions, the narrative too falls prey to the ‘saviour hero’ trope, where the audience begins to wait for every theory to be proven wrong by Vivek. Barring a few moments, Varun Sandesh is rather ineffective as the righteous protagonist who is desperate to get to the bottom of a mystery. He fails to bring the intensity this character needs for Nindha to work on a broader level. Sure, we want to find out the culprit and his motivations, but the stakes don’t rise any higher because of how Vivek deals with the situation. His character remains as bland as they come, never adding to the tension.

The second half of the film also suffers from a dull filmmaking. For a long stretch, we have the primary characters just sitting around a table, talking each other out of theories and possibilities. These segments could have been a lot more dynamic, but Nindha ends up looking like a stageplay because of its bare-bones approach to execution. There is a lot of humour, like the one where the kidnapper’s accomplice gently lays out the breakfast for the hostages as per their dietary preferences. While being funny, it’s also a nice foreshadowing of the gentler aspirations underneath the garb of a mass abduction. But Nindha doesn’t always display a similar penchant for tonal subversions in an otherwise intense narrative.

Overall, Nindha is engaging in bits and pieces.However, it fails to scratch beyond the surface of its genre template, despite its obvious potential.

Cinema Express