Sometimes certain films just draw your attention. They may not be amazing in story or breathtaking in view or even have a chartbusting soundtrack. It was this kind of attention that led me to Ashta Chamma. By the time the movie finished, I not only fell in love with every aspect mentioned but also the lead actors Nani, Swathi, Avasarla Srinivas and Bhargavi. Swathi was as always a breath of fresh air and had my attention from her movie Danger but the rest were debuts that truly blew my mind. So naturally when I find out another film is being done by any of them in it, I will take a look into it. However, Ala Modalaindi which stars Nani and newcomer to Telugu Nithya Menon is a film I have been dying to see for so long after an interview I saw of Nani and director Nandini Reddy's on Mustafa Mustafa. As friends they were so adorably funny, as professionals they were dedicated to their craft. But with some people being funnier off screen than on screen, I tried to contain my excitement and watch it with a clear mind. So here's how it went.
We begin with Goutham [Nani] held captive by a Goon named John [Ashish Vidhyarthi]. After attempting to escape but getting caught again, John gets Goutham to tell him a story to pass the time so Goutham starts his flashback. To him, he thought he had everything he wanted. A good job as a creative head on a news channel, doting best friend like mother [Rohini], good friends and the love of his life, Simran [Kriti Kharbanda] within his grasp. But things turn sour fairly quickly as Goutham meets with an accident and his girl is stolen from him by Dr. Saagar, the doctor who treats him. Down in the dumps as he drown himself in his woes, life opens a door of hope at Simran and Saagar's wedding. Just as drunk and equally heartbroken as him, he bumps into Nithya [Nithya Menon], an independent street-smart girl that was in love with Saagar and is now in the same boat as Goutham. Like two peas in a pod, the two heartbroken souls instantly hit it off. After a series of bumping into each other moments and considerable time spent together, they are in inseparable as friends. Or so Goutham thinks. A change is inevitable and although he is unable to express himself, Goutham is totally head over heels in love but just as he decides he has to tell Nithya how he feels before she leaves Hyderabad for home in Bangalore fate steps in again. She introduces her boyfriend Dileep [actors name unknown] and he starts to question everything about himself and life. Scared that her son may take a harsh decision, Nani's mum steps in with a realistic yet emotional pep talk to gets him on track with life again. But fate has a funny game plan. So while Goutham understands the practicalities of life, Nithya is forced to look at what her true feelings are and it’s at this point when they meet again. Goutham now has a girlfriend, Kavya and it is now Nithya that leaves without saying a word. How does this saga culminate to the current situation of Goutham being captive? Watch the film to find.
Some stories can get away with déjà vu if you have amazing performances and a screenplay that keeps you engrossed. Ala Modalaindi is one such film. The part that I love about Nani is never Actor Nani in any of his films. He at no point reminds you of his previous roles but his natural flare for comedy and his comfort level with the camera is abundantly apparent. He not only infuses life into Goutham but into pretty much every scene he is in. The actor has definitely improved on his emotional scenes and I hope to see him broadening his character span soon. Somebody give me Nithya Menon's whereabouts, I want to give this woman a big hug! For the first time in so long we have an actress that can not only stand her ground as a newcomer but she has also dubbed for herself. If there is one thing makes her stand amongst others, it is her confidence in her dubbing. The actress has done a triple whammy with not only acting dubbing for her but also singing. As Nithya, she is uber cool, confidant and beautiful. Sneha Ullal has been around for much longer than both Nani and Nithya and although she is beautiful and pitches in her two cents, she is still struggling with her expressions and lip syncing which draws away from the character. It’s not author backed role but integral nonetheless and still requires a level of comfort in front of the camera that Sneha lacks. Rohini is adorable as Nani's mum and is in the running for best mummy performance next to Jayasudha. Ashish Vidhyarthi is one of the few actors that are both menacing and funny at the same time. As John he evokes terror initially and is equally funny in the second half. The rest of the cast add to the entourage.
Cinematography by Arjun Jena is apt but could have been better for such a film. At the same time editing by Marthand K Venkatesh is his usual crisp. The scene stealer is by far the dialogue by Lakshmi Bhupal. Half the battle of engaging the audience is won with some terrific dialogue backed by the actor great performances. But we mustn't forget the main man or should I say woman, behind Ala Modalaindi. Nandini Reddy has proven that she can weave a script that the audience may have seen before into something that they will enjoy throughout. The way she handles her comedy may seem like it is just to tickle the funny bone but watch how it all comes together at the end. Fresh and compelling, she joins the growing number of women that are proving their talent in TFI. Kalyani Malik is always dependable for good tunes and he delivers again as he introduces another singer with Nithya. Personal favourites are Ammamo but the whole soundtrack is easy on the ears.
Where does this film falter? Well some may feel the fact there are similarities to A lot Like Love starring Amanda Peet and Ashton Kutcher would be a hindrance. But personally I felt the film engaged you enough for any shortfalls like that to be unnoticed. In fact the situation in which they leave each other are more of a cliche for TFI than Hollywood. If anything, the only thing that I could call a shortfall is Sneha Ullal's role. As important as it was, there could have been a little more depth to it.
Romantic comedies are a lot like flavoured chocolates. Some like turkish delights, some like hazelnut centres and others may like chocolate covered fudge. To me, chocolate is simply smooth and sweet and Ala Modalaindi is one particularly is tasty chocolate.