There are movies, and then there are movies. 9 Nelalu is one of those much-needed films that restores your faith in the creative and acting talent in our film industry. A bold topic, it needed careful handling, and director Kranthi Kumar has done a commendable job.
The beauty of cinema, and its ability to send a message to the masses, is encompassed in every part of this movie. The narration is slick and the performances are excellent. Refreshingly different, this is a movie that epitomizes the dire need for such good quality cinema in our country.
An orphan child is brought up by distant relatives, and her helpful and warm personality wins the hearts of all who come in contact with her. Does sound all too familiar, but this is the only part of the movie that is glaringly familiar.
The story revolves around two characters - Savitri (Soundarya), the uneducated, simple and loving orphan, and Surendra (Vikram), the intelligent and ambitious computer programmer. When her marriage is arranged with a useless drunk, Surendra does the noble deed of stopping this unsavory alliance and graciously marries her.
The trouble starts when Surendra's brainchild, the virtual reality program (the world of virtual reality is shown with precision and clarity - a pat on the backs of the computer graphics team) is sabotaged, and he is accused of selling out to a rival company. Disillusioned by the sudden turn of events, he crashes into a truck and sustains a serious head injury that requires a major operation.
Deserted by all her well-wishers when it comes to financial help, Savitri is alone in her pain and despair, as her husband's life hangs in the balance. This is when a lady doctor suggests that she become pregnant through artificial insemination for a rich man, whose wife is issueless, in exchange for monetary remuneration.
Savitri agrees and, from here on, the movie deals with the social stigma attached to artificial insemination and surrogate motherhood. The rejection and phobia of society, the confusion that it creates in Surendra's mind, and the moral and religious angles are discussed and portrayed in an open, yet aesthetic, manner.
Soundarya excels in her role that transcends that of a naïve woman to a woman of substance. Her expressions, body language and dialogue delivery fit her role like a glove. Vikram has given a controlled performance as the troubled, confused, yet loving husband. The direction and screenplay are almost flawless.
The script is smooth flowing and engrossing. There are a few unnecessary comedy scenes that could have been avoided. But, on the whole, it is an excellent movie. It leaves you with a thought and a sense of pride in Indian cinema. Whether it will go down well with the masses is doubtful as there are no songs, action or cheap comedy, which might be a bitter pill to swallow for most.
This is a movie that deals with reality and reality alone. In short, this is cinema at its best.