Nindha review: Varun Sandesh’s thriller is gripping, but also quite frustrating

Rajesh Jagannadham's debut film starts strong with an intriguing premise. However, it fails to fully utilise its potential.

BySwaroop Kodur

Published:Jun 21, 2024

Nindha is directed by Rajesh Jagannadham

Nindha (Telugu)

21-06-2024, Crime Drama, 2 hours, 8 minutes U/A
Theatre
  • Main Cast:Varun Sandesh, Tanikella Bharani, Bhadram, and Annie Zibi
  • Director:Rajesh Jagannadham
  • Producer:Rajesh Jagannadham
  • Music Director:Santhu Omkar
  • Cinematography:Ramiz Naveeth

Rating

3/5

A doctor, a cop, a petty thief, and a couple of others find themselves tied to a chair in an unknown location. Each of them is dressed in overalls, as though they belong to a prison, and also assigned a number to indicate six hostages in that room. But no one remembers how they got there or what connects them all until they begin to connect the dots. In a bucolic town called Kandrakota in Andhra Pradesh, a grisly murder and a few other things come to mind, but they are all still quite far from the answer.

As far as movie beginnings go, Rajesh Jagannadham’s Nindha hits the ground running in style. It teases intrigue and suspense almost soon after we settle into our seats and the following few scenes raise the stakes a bit more.

The ‘hero’ of the film is still not in the picture, but it’s all been pretty smooth so far—turns out these six hostages are part of a sinister game, a mini-sized Squid Game (2021), if you will. Except that they won’t win any cash prize but rather consider themselves lucky to walk away alive, should they abide by the rules set by this faceless master.

Varun Sandesh in 'Nindha'. (X)

Varun Sandesh in ‘Nindha’. (X)

And almost immediately, as though on cue, something starts to squeak inside the machine and the energy starts to dip a little. The hero or the protagonist shows himself after all but doesn’t cast any impact on the proceedings. The narrative, which remained within the confines of that room so far, starts to expand a little but the new information relayed to us isn’t all that exciting.

And the characters, especially the hostages, too, start to seem less enterprising all of a sudden. Maybe we should have stayed in the room a bit longer and probably allowed the guys to figure things out a bit more on their own.

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A decent watch

Does it all go downhill from there? Well, yes and no. Nindha is one of those films that have a lot going on for themselves but still manage to get lost in their tangles.

There’s a murder, there are not one but six (and a few more) suspects, and there’s also a man (equipped with technology, bodyguards, a secretary, and whatnot) who knows it all or is here to find out more than what meets the eye. But despite all the lure, it ends up being a middling effort that doesn’t deliver on the promise.

Varun Sandesh in 'Nindha'. (X)

Varun Sandesh in ‘Nindha’. (X)

Of course, there’s no prize for guessing that Varun Sandesh is the man in question or that he is chasing a big secret here through these men in the overalls. Right after he unmasks himself, Nindha enters a flashback mode and attempts to contextualize things for us. Each character has something to disclose or confess and each account converges to the murder referred to earlier in the story.

Someone has been wronged by this group of men and it is now up to someone else to bring justice home. The narrative then goes back to that event of crime countless times and exhausts almost every single angle to offer different perspectives. Yet, seldom does it present something new to the viewer.

A thriller sans finesse

One of the main problems occurs in the way Rajesh Jagannadham (also the writer) falters in utilising the promising setup. The middle act, in particular, lacks the depth or the finesse that is required for a thriller of this kind. A film like 12 Angry Men (1957), although based on a seemingly simple premise, reveals its vast depth gradually, beat by beat, through its many vibrant characters. In Nindha, however, even though characters have preoccupations and personalities of their own, they fail to bring much to the table because they lack the said depth.

A half-baked romantic track

Consequently, the film meanders in search of fitting build-up for the final shock it withholds, not knowing what to do with all the material in hand. The half-baked romantic track, the flashback scenes including senior Tanikella Bharani, the backstory involving a key character’s mother and so many more threads add very little to the plot. The concluding moments, as pointed out, do spring a good surprise on us and salvage things to an extent, but given the potential, Nindha will seem like a foregone chance.

As far as performances are concerned, Varun Sandesh steps up to the occasion but the writing inhibits him from digging a little deeper into his character. Similarly, Surya Kumar Bhagavandas, Mime Madhu, Sidharth Gollapudi, Annie Zibi, and others fare quite well but they too are undone by paper-thin characters.

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Final take

Nindha is certainly a bit more than just a passable film but it might disappoint those who are avid fans of the suspense/thriller genre. It’s got a gripping premise and a narrative that doesn’t go too overboard, albeit slightly distracted during the crucial portions. Nevertheless, give this film a go if you are in the mood for something different.

(Views expressed here are personal.)

(Edited by S Subhakeerthana)

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