Review: Ninnila Ninnila(Ashok Selvan, Nithya Menen, Ritu Varma)

‘Ninnila Ninnila’ started streaming on ZeePlex this Friday on a pay-per-view basis. The film is produced by BVSN Prasad and is directed by a debutant. In this section, we are going to review the latest direct OTT release. 

Story:
Dev (Ashok Selvan) is a chef at an exotic restaurant owned by a star chef (Nasser) in London. He gradually develops feelings for Tara (Ritu Varma), a fellow chef at the same restaurant. Where does Nithya Menen’s character Maya fit into the scheme of things? What is her place in Dev’s life? What is the conflict in the story? Answers to these questions are found from the interval.

Performances:
Tamil actor Ashok Selvan makes an impressive debut in Telugu. As a pot-bellied chef with an unfashionable beard, his body language and facial expressions are apt. However, in the other avatar – of a young and fit guy – he is just about ok. Ritu Varma gets to indulge in some light expressions. But she also pulls off serious scenes well. 

Nithya Menen plays a somewhat non-mainstream character where she needs to behave like a child. Nasser aces the role of an authoritative chef who takes a liking to Dev. He comes into his own in the last act of the film. Satya, the comedian, has a short but hilarious role. 

Technical Departments:
Rajesh Murugesan’s music is soothing and lilting. The opening song shot on the male lead comes with heart-touching lyrics. The background music is attuned to the film’s slow-burn mood. Divakar Mani’s cinematography captures the indoors of the restaurant and its kitchen with finesse. Even the outdoors are picturesque.

Analysis:
In ‘Middle Class Melodies’ (2020), Anand Deverakonda’s character struggles to convince his father that he can run a hotel on his own. In ‘Ninnila Ninnila’, Ashok Selvan’s character, a natural genius when it comes to cooking, does go through some pain because his father just wouldn’t trust his talent. The similarities between the two films stop here. 

This film is basically a love story with a difference. It’s because there is a sublime friendship story, too, in it. Revealing anything more would give away the soul of the storyline. 

The conversations are brief. Half of the story is narrated in the form of silences. That’s why it was important for the actors to be perfect. And the three main actors as well as Nasser rise to the occasion. 

But if you are someone who expects clear-cut drama, this film will bore you. This is not to say that ‘Ninnila Ninnila’ is bereft of flaws. The story gets too simple-minded at times. The conflicts don’t last long. The characters conjure up solutions in a snap. The climax is somewhat jaded. 

Verdict:
Debutant director Ani I.V. Sasi appears to have done the movie for the Tamil/Malayalam audience. ‘Ninnila Ninnila’ makes for a cool OTT watch. But it’s doubtful whether it would have impressed the audience on the single screens knowing the tastes of the Telugu audience. Maybe, a theatrical release would have resulted in failure. This is a feel-good multiplex movie for the most part. Watch it with your family on a breezy evening. You may just like it! 

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