Directed by Palanti Surya Pratap
Meet Nandini in Palnati Surya Pratap’s Telugu film 18 Pages, now streaming on Netflix. She is the epitome of generosity and kindness. When a little boy at the traffic signal sells her worthless ballpens, she buys the whole bunch with a smile.
The boy is guilt-stricken. “Akka(Didi) I cannot sell you these. They don’t even work,” Nandini just smiles and says, “Take the money you need it for your mother’s medicine,” …or was it sister’s school fee , or father’s debt…Take your pick.
Later the boy rescues Nandini from kidnappers. This is a bit too much to digest.
The above exchange provides an ample peek into the sheer syrupiness of the product. 18 Pages, refers to a diary that the hero finds on the road and takes home for timepass. Soon he becomes incurably enamoured of the diarist, the above woman with the bogus ballpens who doles out goodness as if it were going out of fashion.
And sadly, it is. This is why this over-sweetened dish of dogood-ing hits home. It awaken in us the rapidly fading fervor for kindness. Nandini in 18 Pages is too good to be true. At the same time she is what we all want to be, or at least aim at being.She is so submerged in the overflowing milk of human kindness you feel she may slip and fall in the puddle.
Providentially, Nandini stands tall as a figure of compassion in a world where humanism is quickly dying.Writer Sukumar leans into the limpid pool of Nandini’s munificence without tripping over her self righteousness.
The young actress Anupama Parmeshwaran who plays Nandini is just the right fit for the angelic part. She brings to her role the unadorned charm of Sai Pallavi and the uprightness of Revathi in roles that require her to be morally upright.Parmeshwaran is the source of light the reason to beam, in 18 Pages.
Her presence is especially admirable considering her co-star Nikhil Siddhartha is rather dismayingly denuded of any charm or screen presence.In essence, each time Parmeswharan is on the screen she lights up the frames.
The female lead apart, the plot is dotted with ditzy characters and manipulated twists and turns which are designed to keep the lovers apart until the final hurrah. Watching the seesaw between saccharine sentimentality and overt melodrama could be cumbersome for those who like their rom-com light to the touch . Having said that, the cloying goodygoody-ness of 18 Pages is a lot less annoying than in Jeevan Jijo’s recent Malayalam film Ullasam Shane Nigam discovers life and love by reading someone’s personal journal.