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Hi Nanna: A heart touching tale of a father’s love for his daughter

Hi Nanna works a perfect balm for those who had a tough time with the violent father and son dynamics in Animal. Nani pulls of his role with the expected panache but it is Mrunal Thakur who steals the show

By

Prabhatha Rigobertha

December 9, 2023

There has been a heavy dose of father oriented stories this year. Whether it is Shah Rukh Khan’s double act of a father and son in Jawan , or Pankaj Tripati’s turn in OMG 2 as a disgruntled parent who slowly becomes a revoluntary for his son. Even Vijay Thalapathy who is generally known for his mass characters delivered an affecting performance in Lokesh Kanagaraj’s Leo as a family man with a dark past.

Baby Kiara and Nanni in a song sequence

Hi Nanna directed by debutant director Shouryuv is an emotional rollercoaster that makes the viewers feel many things. Sure the pacing is slow and the story does take a little time to get going however the end results are mostly satisfying. But it has to be said that the movie isn’t for fans of high octane entertainers.

Also read: Animal: A chilling psychological portrait of a man who is desperate to get love and affection from his father

Viraj (Nani) is a professional photographer and a single father. Mahi (Baby Kiara) is the 6 year old daughter. Viraj has always kept the story of Mahi’s mother in the dark. Whenever she asks about where her mother is Viraj simply skips the matter. Things take a turn when Viraj promises Mahi that he would tell about her mother provided she scores first rank. Mahi does score first rank but Viraj doesn’t adhere to his promise. Expectedly Mahi gets very angry and leaves the home. She almost faces an accident but is saved in the nick of time by Yashna (Mrunal Thakur). The rest of the story is about what had happened between Viraj and his wife along with how Yashna changes the lives of Viraj and Mahi.

Nani and Mrunal Thakur

As mentioned above the pacing of Hi Nanna is slow. Director Shouryuv takes his own sweet time in setting up the plot. The initial minutes are devoted to the bond of Viraj and Mahi. The story gathers momentum with the entry of Yashna. Viraj narrates his past in a fairy tale format. In these flashback portions Mahi imagines Yashna as her mother. Viraj’s love at first sight is slightly clichéd but it doesn’t get too bothersome thanks to the chemistry between Nani and Mrunal Thakur. The characters of Viraj and the wife are contrastingly different from each other. Viraj is someone who is eternally hopeful irrespective of what the situation is. The wife on the other hand has anxiety issues that primarily stem from growing up in a broken home.

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She is someone who is very clear about not getting into the complications of a marriage having seen her parents constantly argue with each other. However she does end up marrying Viraj much to the annoyance of her mother. There is a lovely scene between Viraj and his prospective mother- in- law where the economical differences are highlighted. What makes this scene special is how he deals with the situation in the most empathetic way. The viewers instantly root for Viraj. Viraj initially says that they need not have children but that changes later on. There is a huge argument between Viraj and the wife followed by a heartwarming moment. This scene is a major highlight of the film and a perfect example of the sizzling chemistry between Nani and Mrunal.

Angad Bedi makes his debut with Hi Nanna

Towards the end of the first half director Shouryuv gives a major twist to the character of Yashna. The second half is heavier. In spite of some predictable scenarios the viewers are still invested in how the tale will end. This is majorly because of the strong emotional cord. A drunken banter between Nani and Mrunal Thakur does come across as a respite from the otherwise heavy drama.

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What doesn’t work though is a party song featuring Shruti Haasan. It looks completely out of sync with the overall tone of the film. The extended special appearance of Sruthi Haasan could have been easily scrapped. Angad Bedi plays a character modeled on Salman Khan’s Amar in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. He is pretty good but lacks the charm of what Salman Khan brought to the table as the third wheel.

Priyadarshi plays the friend cum colleague part with his usual effervescence. His comic timing is spot on as always and his camaraderie with Nani is fun to watch. Another member who stands out in the supporting cast is Jayaram. The actor delivers a nuanced performance as Mahi’s grandfather. He particularly shines in an emotionally charged sequence at a critical juncture.

Debutant director Shouryuv makes the viewers feel many things

Apart from Nani and Mrunal’s sizzling chemistry another strong point of Hi Nanna are the father and daughter scenes between Nani and Baby Kiara. They simply melt your heart on many occasions. Baby Kiara performs like an absolute pro with the right amount of innocence and vulnerability.

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Hesham Abdul Wahab’s music and background score another big strength of Hi Nanna. Except for the Sruthi Haasan number the rest are a delight to watch and listen. My favorite numbers are Gaaju Bomma, Ammaadi and Samayama.

Priyadarshi’s comic timing is spot on as always and his camaraderie with Nani is fun to watch.

The cinematography of Sanu John Varghese is a visual delight particularly the flashback portions in Connor.

For Nani the role of Viraj is a cake in the park but nevertheless the actor is a delight to watch. He does a splendid job in portraying the different shades of Viraj whether it is the boyishness of a young lover or as a father later on who will do anything for his daughter. However it is Mrunal Thakur who steals the show with an outstanding performance. She plays a complicated character with ease. Mrunal conveys the various feelings with just her expressive eyes showing once again the bundle of talent she is. It is a performance that is a step ahead of last year’s Sita Ramam in many ways. Chinmayi’s dubbing adds to the impact.

Hi Nanna is a heartwarming story of a father and daughter along with a mother battling her own inner demons, a definite breadth of fresh air which needs to be seen.

Also read: Bhagavanth Kesari: A fan pleasing entertainer with a strong dose of feminism

Prabhatha Rigobertha
Prabhatha Rigobertha
Rigobertha Prabhatha has been writing on movies, web series, books, etc. on social media platforms like Facebook for a few years. He has a YouTube channel "prabhathalovesmovies" in which he posts video reviews. "I have only two windows to my world - movies and books" reads it's tagline. He is a student of English literature and currently working as Content Writer at Pudami Publications based in Hyderabad.

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