Critic’s Rating : 3.5 / 5
Ante Sundaraniki Movie Review : Nani and Nazriya shine in this cute rom-com
Review: If you’ve seen Mental Madhilo and Brochevarevarura, you kind of know what to expect from Vivek Athreya’s Ante Sundaraniki at this stage and he doesn’t disappoint. In a film filled with quirky yet relatable characters and no shortage of bad ideas or laughter, it’s hard to nit-pick when you walk out with a smile on your face.
Sundar Prasad (Nani) is the only son (among many daughters) of a large, conservative, Brahmin family. With his hopes of being a child artiste in a Chiranjeevi film dashed, he suffocates under the numerous pujas and rituals his family makes him follow. It feels like almost every day when his father (Naresh) feels paranoid enough to find new ways to take away his freedom. His childhood friend Leela Thomas (Nazriya Nazim Fahadh) grows up in a similarly conservative family. While her parents don’t curb her dreams, her father (Azhagam Perumal) doesn’t feel comfortable enough in the presence of Hindus due to the kind of prejudice he faced. Fate brings these two together when they grow up and while they understand how important they are to each other over the course of a vacation, how will they convince their parents to agree to this union?
Vivek Athreya takes his own sweet time setting up the characters of Sundar and Leela, apart from their families. Aruna Bhikshu plays Sundar’s grandma, a veena player who communicates through the instrument while Rohini plays his soft-hearted mom, the one who usually finds herself stuck in the middle. Leela too has a sweet little family, with her mom, played by Nadhiya, coming across as strong as she’s meant to be while Leela’s sister Pushpa, played by Tanvi Ram, seems to be a blueprint of what Leela’s future could hold should she succumb to the norm.
The more the film progresses, the more you give in because Sundar and Leela’s plans seem to form a life of their own. It’s only when the second half rolls around that you realise how important it was for you to understand and invest in these characters. Ashwini devathalu or tadhasthu devathalu also in a way play a key role in what’s to come but Vivek ensures his story doesn’t succumb to just superstition. While some of the plans these two form seem too outlandish, it works because Vivek does a good job of never letting you take the film too seriously. To reveal anything more would be an injustice because beyond all the laughs, the film also does a good job of dealing with certain social topics.
The story Vivek has to tell is not really a new one, but his non-linear and quirky narration really makes his work shine. The film is at its best when the stellar cast are mouthing off one-liners that are not just relatable but hilarious. Sundar keeps narrating this tale and the way it’s edited (by Ravi Teja Girijala), you always end up wanting to know more. Vivek also uses Harshavardhan’s character cleverly, with most of his thoughts mirroring that of the audience. It’s only once the film is done that you realise, the director could’ve find a way to cut the long runtime shorter, which is a drawback. Some of the stories Sundar narrates also don’t land.
Nani shines in the role of Sundar that’s right down his alley while Nazriya fits right into the skin of Leela. There’s a running gag involving Sundar’s picture on billboards, apart from the duo tapping into their inner child whenever they make outlandish plans that’ll make you chuckle. Rohini, Naresh, Nadhiya, Azhagam and Aruna really breathe life into their characters, with Naresh and Aruna getting some of the best lines in the film apart from Sundar. The cameos by Anupama Parameswaran, Venkatesh Maha and Rahul Ramakrishna are a delight. Vivek Sagar’s music is as quirky as the film, not hampering the narrative while Niketh Bommi’s camerawork shines while capturing the chaos.
Watch Ante Sundaraniki this weekend, especially if you love rom-coms with a big dollop of craziness. Also watch it if you’ve loved Vivek’s previous work and for the cast, especially for Nani and Nazriya.