Ante Sundaraniki Movie Review: Nani, Nazriya Nazim starrer is a bold love story & fascinating family drama
Director Vivek Athreya doesn't cheapen the goings-on anywhere in Ante Sundaraniki. He keeps it classy and dignified.
Title: Ante Sundaraniki
Cast: Nani, Nazriya Nazim and others
Director: Vivek Athreya
Run-Time: 176 minutes
Sundar Prasad, as a child, is victimized by a fraudulent Co-Director who hoodwinks him into believing that he will be cast in a Chiranjeevi blockbuster. The child builds castles in the air, marvelling at how he has become a star among his classmates because of the film offer. When the fraud unravels, Sundar Prasad is heartbroken that his stardom dreams have crashed suddenly. His juvenile mind is now fixated on the American dream as a form of compensation.
In the same school where Sundar goes, Leela Thomas is dejected when she is robbed of her identity. She tells herself that she will become a photographer when she grows up.
The two characters, who share certain similarities, end up falling in love with each other as adults. Religion drives a wedge between them but what eventually unites them is an unanticipated turn of events involving complex situations and flawed humans.
Nani delivers a stunningly restrained performance in the portions where he finds himself in either tricky or emotionally-exhausting moments. He is adorable in the final act, where he lets his mother (Rohini is adequate) voice his concerns. Nazriya Nazim's performance was expected to be superlative. Her somewhat under-confident dubbing undermines her otherwise natural performance. Had the screenplay let her occupy greater mind space in the second half, it would have been most welcome.
In the hands of an inferior director, the jokes around infertility and pre-marital pregnancy would have put the ultra-popular comedy show 'Jabardasth' to shame. Director Vivek Athreya doesn't cheapen the goings-on anywhere. He keeps it classy and dignified. If anything, he gives earnest touches to them in the final act.
Sundar and Leela invent lies. Had Sundar not lied to his father (VK Naresh doesn't become a caricature) and grandmother, they wouldn't have come of age. Had Leela not lied to her parents (both Azhagam Perumal and Nadhiya are equally good), they would have been shattered by what befalls them eventually.
So much would be said about the way the lead characters use two audacious lies as a device to work their way around their elders' narrow-mindedness. But 'AS' is actually about the out-of-the-blue events that follow. The plotting is not predictable and the resolution is not lazy. When you watch 'AS', you would realize that the film is not about the two lies. It is about something else. Go figure!
It is not just the children-parents tracks that stand out. Even the apparently superficial love scenes have their profound moments. Consider the scene where Leela is asked if Sundar is worth the bold lie she is peddling. Such a line was needed after the film spends 50 minutes or so in the first half telling us about Sundar and Leela's childhood. The heaviness in the scenes is deepened by a story-driven song. The BGM by Vivek Sagar doesn't have typical soaring snatches.
At times, the love story does seem to be built on weak foundations. But if you think of it, the romance doesn't take off in a typical manner. It evolves over many years, complete with a phase where Sundar avoids Leela. It's not a story filled with typical cliches like a meet-cute.
The final act deserves special applause for featuring not only an atypical twist but also a set of happenings that make the elders question their long-held obsessions.
Check out Ante Sundaraniki's trailer below: