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Next Enti Movie Review: It Takes Telugu Cinema To The Next Level

Subhash K . Jha

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Next Enti(Telugu)

Starring: Tamannaah Bhatia, Sundeep Kishan

Written & Directed by Kunal Kohli

Rating: *** ½(three and a  half stars)

 Telugu cinema is  changing  fast. Baahubali, Arjun Reddy and now  Next Enti. Not that I am suggesting the third has  a place along with the  first two  neo-classics. Not by a wide margin.  But there  is a flush of  flavourful forthrightness in  the way Next Enti  tackles  the  dynamics of the man-woman relationship.

Not only does it treat the gender equation with playful maturity and casual candour it doesn’t shy away  from using the ‘S’ word.

 Yes, young couples  do have sex before marriage even in conservative societies  like the ones  in Andhra Pradesh.  ArjunReddy told us that  with unexpunged glee. Next Enti uses glamorous filtered  exotic settings to give vignette-like  glimpses into the lives of  two young people in and out of love for two  hours  until they simply exhaust their armoury of excuses  for  not being together .

Luckily  for  us the  film doesn’t  exhaust us at all. The two hours fly off   like a breeze thanks to Kunal Kohli’s brisk tongue-in-cheek writing and the  propensity to spin a sexy yarn  without slipping on the bananapeel of  its own  cleverness  .

There is  a hilarious putdown for the hero’s libido when we are told his new girlfriend(Larissa Bonesi)  breaks their marriage after having sex with him as he doesn’t…umm….measure up.

 Kohli uses  lengthy sequences and  a deliberately verbose style of storytelling to  allow the couple’s problematic  relationship to  grow  at its own will.

While Hum Tum, Kunal Kohli’s  2004  Saif Ali Khan-Rani Mukherjee starrer  from which Next Enti seeks inspiration, was  interspersed with animation snippets, the Telugu  recreation  does away with the cartoon strips and  simply allows the pair to fight their way  out of their  ideological differences.

 It  is  very simply , really.He wants  to go all the way .She has  been brought up to hold back. The film shoots the  lovers in London’s luminous  light that lends itself to endless  discussions on what men want and women don’t always want to  give.The entire narrative, punctuated  by some easygoing gentle songs and  background score by  Leon  James, exudes blithe  bubbly effervescent vibes.

Tammannah’s scenes with her screen-dad(Sharat Babu) show a buddy  bonding between a daughter and  her father  necessitated by his  single status. Motherless, Tammy’s father goes  out  and buys a whole supermarket  of sanitary pads when his daughter begins her menstruation.At 18, he serves her every kind of alcohol and  tells her  to choose her favourite.

Sadly boys don’t appear on  daddy’s dinnertable to be selected like wine.

That Tammannah  Bhatia is  in fine form  truly helps the  narrative’s  verbosity to anchor  itself in a believable perspective. The same  cannot be said about her co-star Sundeep Kishan who not only looks  far too young for her but also way too callow and clumsy. The contrast  between them  is  not  just skindeep, it is distractingly glaring. It gets even more so when Tammy(Bhatia) meets a suave middleaged  divorcee(the role that Abhishek Bachcham played in  Hum Tum)  on a flight, and they get talking.

Conversational, quirky, mischievous,tongue-in-cheek and  yet relevant Next Enti is  a delightful romp into the  inner spaces  of  the  romcom.  The film’s real hero  is the city of London and its suburbs which are  captured in a dreamy haze  by cinematographer Maneesh Chandra Bhatt.

  Some  of the images in the film are so edifying  they conquer the  narrative’s obvious drawbacks(verbosity,  leading man’s gawkiness) .In one sequence Tammy is shown throwing her co-star out of the house. As he stands hopefully below her window she throws down his shoes as he’s run out in socks

 Next Enti is  new-age Telugu cinema at its cheekiest. The gender war may not make sense  all the way. But does  it ever?

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