Rating: 7/10 (Incredible Psychological Thriller)
Released for Sankranthi 2014, 1 has gone down as a classic film in TFI even though it was a commercial disaster. The audience only had themselves to blame for making the film a flop and truly rue their decision in present day. What made the movie a misunderstood classic? Find out in this review.
Story: Guatham (Mahesh Babu) is a rockstar singer who suffers from retrograde amnesia. He is missing 25% of his brain's grey matter. He has a vivid memory of his parents dying and remembers that 3 people killed them.
He goes to a police station claiming he killed one of the 3 men. But in reality he was hallucinating and he was actually attacking nothing but thin air. A journalist Sameera (Kriti Sanon) takes interest in Gautham's case and falls for him Goa.
Together, they try to find out whether Gautham's parents are really dead or whether he is actually insane and they trek the world from Goa to London to Belfast to find out the truth. Whether Gautham's story is true or not and whether he eliminates the 3 people who killed his parents forms the rest of the story.
Performances: I will give you one reason to watch the film. Superstar Mahesh. The man is simply incredible. After dazzling us with amazing commercial performances, he is so so good as the troubled rockstar Gautham. The way he transforms himself and lives in the character is a joy to watch. With a ripped and fit body, he bashes up goons with ease and one can see how hard he has worked for the movie. His performance in the interval is world class and in the climax is equally as good. The film is worth a watch just for his performance alone. In terms of the commercial aspects and appeal to his fans, there's virtually nothing other than seeing their favorite star in an author backed role. His dances are also superb and will get some claps for trying.
Kriti Sanon is decent in her debut and has a decent role in the 1st half but is completely sidelined in the 2nd half. Kelly Dorji, Pradeep Rawat,and Nasser as the villains are adequate.
Naveen Polisetty aka Rajesh of Life is Beautiful fame has an important role in the 2nd half. Posani tries to add some comedy but it barely works. No one else really makes an impact in the film besides Mahesh, Nasser, and Kriti. Sophie Choudary looks awkward in a random item song that has no value to the movie.
Technicalities: Music by DSP is ok but the background score is incredible. The background music is simply haunting and truly sets the mood for a different type of film like this. Cinematography by Ratnavelu is amazing. The visuals in this film are a treat to watch and the shots in the UK in particular are breathtaking. Fights by Peter Heins are terrible. The action sequences shot on water and in the UK are too ridiculous and overhyped and end up looking silly. Editing by Karthika Srinivas is questionable. The film is way too long for a thriller like this. Dialogues are good. Art is good especially for the climax. The house they found and that instrument are superb. Production Values by 14 Reels Entertainment are grand and excellent. But may 70 crores was too much to invest in a risky project like this.
Analysis: Let me just make this clear. If you have a brain which means you are educated and have knowledge of some complicated things and can watch different types of films, you will understand this movie. If you are uneducated, dropped out of school, live off your parents' money and only watch masala films, then you won;t understand squat in this movie. And sadly, it was more people in the latter case that watched the film and rejected it.
1 is not your average film. It's a brilliant psychological thriller that requires you to think and use your brain rather than just toss logic out the window like in every commercial film. It's a film that tries to break the stereotype and introduce a new genre to the Telugu audience.
And sadly that was too much for people to understand and digest. Especially the people at GreatAndhra who stated "What happens when you are in full mood to have Dosa and then you get served a Subway sandwich? It is not to say Subway stuff is not good but the mood and taste goes bitter. The same experience happens when you watch this film." That's right they compared the film to a dosa and a subway sandwich. Which makes no freakin sense.
The first 15 minutes is truly complex but the suspense created by the director through the story and the protagonists' internal issue is very good. The interval twist is superb and sets up the 2nd half. The editing department could have come in the clutch here and made the narrative more crisp by chopping off scenes and getting to the point. But the film drags on and on and kind of tests your patience.
But one should appreciate the attempt made by Mahesh Babu and Sukumar. Sukumar is genius and there's no doubt about that. But sometimes he can go haywire and over complicate things or over explain them and that is what he did with 1. But his taking is simply superb.
On a whole, 1 Nenokkadine can be added to the list of mistaken classics in Telugu cinema. Mahesh Babu's stunning performance, Sukumar's direction, DSP's background score, and Ratavanelu's camera work make for a truly pulsating thriller.
Had Sukumar made the film easier for the common idiot to understand and the length was shortened, then the film maybe could have had a different outcome. Give this a one time watch and you may not regret it. Only if you have a brain that is.