Cast: Siddharth, Priya Anand and Nithya Menen
One pleasing aspect of ad filmmaker Jayendra’s debut feature movie, Nootrenbadhu (which translates as 180), is its enticing visuals that often move across the screen in perfect harmony. The first minutes are breathtakingly haunting as Dr Ajay Kumar/Mano (Siddharth) takes a dip in the Ganges at Varanasi, apparently performing the last rites of someone dead. In sequences that unfold in deliberate slow motion, we are given an inkling of what is to come, more so when Kumar meets a little boy, Mano, on the steps of the river, playing with his toy car completely oblivious of the death of his father. When the boy’s grandfather, tired of urging the boy to go through with the rituals, remarks to Kumar how wonderful it would be to treat death with such casual abandon and live for the day, not grieving over the past or worrying about the future, Kumar learns a life-changing lesson, and decides to call himself Mano after the lad.
Unfortunately, as has often been the case with ad filmmakers turning to movie direction, Jayendra in his effort to create picture perfect frames slips on content. With the screenplay leaving a lot to be desired, Nootrenbadhu flounders. Performances seem at best superficial, even exaggerated, further marring the narrative.
As for the story, is there one at all? And, even there is one in a certain sense, it is peppered with implausible situations, and does not quite engage you. The start that appeared promising soon sags. Beautiful people, exotic locales and magnificent photography alone do not make great cinema.