18 May 2015
“Well, some people are just weird,” the male protagonist of Lal Jose’s new film Nee-Na utters these words shortly after we are into the story. He may have said it in the spirit that empathising with them without being judgemental will make the world a better place to live or he may have said it out of selfishness as this statement was about one of his supremely talented subordinate who is haughty to the hilt and an alcohol abuser of A+ grade. And, the film goes on to show the turmoil that his accommodative nature brings into his life.
The tagline of this film may say that it is a ‘tale of two women’, but it feels that the hyphen (or the man between the two women) in the title becomes as important as them by the end of this film. Neena (Deepti Sati) and Nalini (Ann Augustine) are poles apart; one detests norms and traditions like poison and the other adheres to them as if they her lifeline. Between them the only common thing is the man they both love; Vinay Panikkar (Vijay Babu). One is a normal housewife who would not mind anything as long as her husband is physically faithful to her, and, the other would go to any extent to charm her man.
In most of the films and TV serials we feel that this story would not be happening if the characters would have spoken their minds out at the right time, there are couple of instances when we feel that here too. But, when we absorb the whole content of the film, these are just minor glitches.
Neena is an alcoholic, this fact overshadows her brilliance as the creative director of the Ad Agency she is working for. Vinay decides to something about it when he becomes her boss. This decision somehow makes his life go upside down. Neena begins to like him and does not refrain from showing it. Thankfully, his wife Nalini is not insecure and does not keep him on a leash. Though she extends an olive branch of friendship to Neena and when she does not get it she just warns her. Things never really get to boil. Sometime we doubt that Vinay is playing along with the girl’s fantasy. But, when things become unbearable, he lets her know that his priority is his wife and his kid. So, he cannot go with her beyond friendship.
As expected, the rejection has devastating effect on Neena and she attempts suicide. When the hospital contacts Vinay, he is informed that his number was found under the title My Man in Neena’s phone. So, he is assumed to be her husband and he does not try to clarify the situation beyond a point even after reaching the hospital. The doctor there suggests that she should be taken to a rehab centre for de-addiction. It is a twenty two day programme where the patient should be accompanied by the spouse or a parent. He comes to understand that Neena’s dad is indisposed with jaundice so he calls Nalini, she just tells him to think rationally and do what he feels right.
The rest of the film goes on to elaborately show the de-addiction process and Vinay himself is de-addicted of Neena’s obsessive love as she comes out of her drunken stupor. In fact, Vinay himself goes through the withdrawal symptoms along with Neena.
A few years ago director Ranjith made Spirit (2012) that showed alcoholism as a social menace. With Nee-Na director Lal Jose tries to analyse the impact of drinking on an individual and the people around that individual, and he does it triumphantly.
As it appeared in Rediff.