Neninthe is perhaps the film with the maximum number of scenes of men being beaten brutally on their testicles in Tollywood. It is also the first time in Tollywood (at least as far as this writer knows) that the "nee ammani d****
" abuse is used in a movie, thus bravely crossing the final frontier. And the heroine has her hand resting practically on Ravi Teja's crotch in a scene shown in 3 zoom-outs.
This is the movie that Puri Jagannath uses to preach to the rest of the world about the Telugu film industry's virtues, and the great Satans it encounters in its quest for survival. Don't you just love him?
Neninthe is a typical Puri Jagannath product, but with a message - that it's okay to live in a glasshouse and throw boulders around, some of them even landing on King Kong. The ostensible tale of a wannabe director, this one has several full-grown grouses in its crosshairs against just about everything related to Tollywood, and a gleeful enthusiasm in the ranting. To the outer world, Jagannath emerges moral champion - within the industry, he'll probably have much fewer friends on a rainy day.
Ravi (Ravi Teja) is an assistant director doing time under Idli Vishwanath (Brahmanandam), an established director with an ego untouched by his worth. Struggling to get a break as a director for his own script, he makes a powerful enemy in Yadu (Supreet Reddy), a local goon, while trying to protect Sandhya (Seiya), a junior artiste/dancer. The film traces the contours of the Telugu film industry while showcasing his struggle for success, and provides more than a silhouette.
Some of Neninthe is vicious mimicking of ego statements and idiosyncrasies of industry bigwigs that will result in plenty of nudging and winking among an insider crowd, but most of it has to do with fan clubs, fudged collection figures, websites focused on Tollywood, and reviewers. Jagannath presents a larger-than-life picture of rabid fans who stake their personal reputation on the box-office fate of their hero's latest film - a problem peculiar to Tollywood, with any number of online forums spewing vitriol, many times on casteist (sic) lines, bearing testimony to that - and even go bankrupt to ensure collections and thus their standing relative to fans of rival heroes.
Fudged collections, a well-known Tollywood reality, get their focus, too, but Jagannath reserves his carping best for websites and reviewers. It's easy to make out which specific ones he's referring to if you are clued in (hint: there's one which churns out a lot of salacious gossip, and another that claims to influence overseas collections with its ratings).
For those who want to know, Jagannath feels you should decide whether you should watch a movie based on its songs, posters and trailers - you should not
read reviews, since reviewers who point out flaws in movies have never made a movie. This logic can undoubtedly be extended to asking your friends or colleagues for movie recommendations, too. They have never made a movie either, remember? What's the difference between them and a reviewer?
Also, you should never ask friends or consult a magazine on which car to buy, since they've never actually made a car.
Jagannath's contention is also that crores go into making a movie, and it's your duty to pay your $8 or Rs. 100 or whatever without reading reviews first, to ensure that they get their money back, since they are doing all this for love of movie-making rather than money. No, the movie actually says this.
Our small detour aside, should you watch Neninthe? Well, it has gore, from the man who single-handedly gave it a new lease of life with Pokiri
- and, like we said, it hits a new low this time. It has atrociously vulgar language including the "l****k*****" and the "d***a" words. It has all the skin show you expect from a Puri Jagan movie including an item song by Mumaith.
Jagannath thus does it once again: try a mix and match of the ingredients he knows - gore, skin, rousing lines and comedy - and hope to get a hit. Indeed, he talks of how movie-making is like playing carroms - you put all coins in the middle and hit at it, and hope that some of them go into the holes (as in, you put all elements, and hope some work). Sad metaphor, but to use it anyway, you also need to be a good carrom player - there are people who always put 4 coins in the 4 holes in their first strike.
Also, there are men
who don't play carroms at all, and have had 3 consecutive (and counting) commercial hits that were also critically acclaimed and awarded. And with the exception of Avakai Biriyani
, every low-budget offbeat film this year has been a hit (Ashta Chemma
, Kotha Bangaru Lokam
Jagannath is undoubtedly good, and if he stopped outsourcing the reason for flops to reviews and took responsibility himself, he would make even better movies. We await that. As for reviewers, lots of people think fullhyd gets it right each time. We don't play carroms, we just try to be good at whatever we do.