Aptly titled, 1: Nenokkadine is all about a single character who is in the quest of his identity. In a precarious situation where he asks a character, ‘Who am I?’, you understand the desperation of Gautham (Mahesh Babu) to find some necessary answers to questions that have been haunting him throughout his life.
Yes, though surprising, the Sukumar directed 1: Nenokkadine is loaded with a lot of emotion, in the guise of being a psychological thriller with relievably small doses of the usual commercial put-ons expected of a festive treat. With the producer’s trust on the story visible in each and every frame, the film turns out to be an extraordinary visual experience where traditional elements of a thriller aren’t compromised upon and logic does not take a backseat.
The storyteller uses the magic cube as a hidden metaphor to suggest his puzzle is waiting to be unlocked. The energy that captivates into the story within the first minutes also throws light on the electric atmosphere which is almost sustained on an entirety. When Gautham, the rockstar, takes the centrestage and shouts ‘Who are you?’ at his concert, you infectiously submit yourself to the surroundings.
Only when a mockery is made on his psyche by an over-curious stereotyped journalist in the form of Sameera (Kriti Sanon), in fact, a futile attempt to ease the intensity, 1: Nenokkadine rather seems a farce. The first half is dedicated to explore his mental crisis in elaborate detail, brought out to the fore with an matchless screen-presence of Mahesh Babu, who especially shines in the interval portions where he battles between imagination and reality, which surely isn’t the easiest of aspects to be depicted cinematically.
Considering that Sukumar has tried to strike a balance between his narration and ‘mass-pleasing’ moments here, the grip on the screenplay goes amiss for certain junctures. However, the alluring cinematography becomes another element where you crave for more of the water-scooter fights with the cheer and buzz of the Goan surroundings in addition to the gorgeously dressed characters creating an appeal to the senses like never before.
The achievement here is that, the story still remains the focus and the add-ons, the bonuses. Another aspect unlike his other outing has got to be the director’s return with a bang in the post-intermission phase where the incomplete details opened up in the earlier half begin to power the narrative.
There’s obviously the journey where the lead pair toys with the available clues. The twists start becoming more frequent. Though the entry and the typicality of Posani’s character is a distraction, the goof-up episode involving the trio to fool the police is a brilliantly conceived one though you need to admit that only the larger than life brilliance of characters could have made such an occurrence possible.
We get to see more of Mahesh Babu’s shades witnessed in an Athadu and a Businessman here. In a work that demands crisp dialogues at intense situations where character histrionics turn more significant than rhyming one-liners, he invests his career-best performance into this one. When he explains the dialogue of life not being a bed of roses to a mother-less child in a graveyard, his genuineness is uplifting.
Similarly, the incompleteness yet the commitment in his eyes to unveil his personal mysteries do a lot of good in making even foolish instances look believable. He runs, fights and argues, all with a firm purpose. And at last, when he accomplishes his aim too, there’s an element of fulfillment.However, one would have wished appropriate music tracks and their placement to supplement the stirring background score of Devi Sri Prasad.
It is an unconventional offering from a maker like Sukumar who thrived earlier on creating wacky characterisations, but yet manages to undermine those aspects here to extract the best out of his resources to make a neat thriller that doesn’t complicate itself too much.
Kriti Sanon has a decent start in a film that has enough importance for her, even if it doesn’t turn out to be an exact dream debut. Nasser, Posani and Kelly Dorjee are the only ones who get worthy screen-space excepting the leads and they shine. An appreciable effort to make a thriller, 1: Nenokkadine is a winner that manages to score even without buffoons and parodies. A welcome change!