Note this: You need to turn into a kiddie while watching a kiddie film. So follow this mantra when you set out to watch a naani solve a mystery, a la Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie, in DETECTIVE NAANI, directed by first-timer Romilla Mukherjee.
DETECTIVE NAANI is tedious and interesting, both. Tedious, because what could've been narrated in 1.30 hours is narrated in 2.15 hours. More on that later!
Interesting, because the mystery element and how it eventually gets solved keeps your eyes wide open. Sure, you might call the goings-on childish, but, hey, don't forget the golden mantra.
Final words? Strictly for kids!
It's a regular day at Gulmohar Complex. Spunky, independent, 75-year-old Naani [Ava Mukherjee] is on her way back home from her daily morning walk. Suddenly, her eye catches the face of a little girl peeping nervously from a 3rd floor window. The flat belongs to a childless couple.
The girl hides away quickly. Naani's intrigue about the little girl leads her to a possible murder. Naani finds herself in the middle of a mystery where some people will come to her aid, some will be indifferent and some will prove to be dangerous. When the CID officer [Ankur Nayyar] dismisses Naani's story due to lack of hard evidence, she transforms into a detective.
Naani uses her home-spun common sense and logic and carries out her investigation in classic whodunit style.
Come to think of it, the concept of DETECTIVE NAANI is indeed different. You've a septuagenarian trying to solve a case in her own, simple, uncomplicated way. But the problem is not the naani, but the sundry characters that are inter-connected to the main plot.
Ideally, Romilla should've concentrated on the naani solely, instead of the romantic track [a big yawn], who break into silly songs that would make even those suffering from insomnia doze off. Also, the kids - the grand-kids of the naani - hardly make the proceedings lively. These portions should've been eliminated on the script level itself. It would've saved money and raw stock, besides keeping the running time in check.
Also, from the writing point of view, the villain and his wife do nothing beyond giving cold stares to the naani, even though they know that she's after their case.
Having said that, it's true that DETECTIVE NAANI holds your attention towards the latter reels. The penultimate moments are watchable and you don't really grumble as the film reaches its finale.
Romilla Mukherjee's direction is better than her writing. Musically, nothing to hum about. Ideally, it should've been a songless film.
Ava Mukherjee, the naani, lends credibility to her character. She makes the most implausible situation look plausible. Ankur Nayyar, the cop, is an extremely competent actor. A small-screen talent that needs to be picked up by big-screen producers. The remaining actors either pass muster or fail to register an impact.
On the whole, DETECTIVE NAANI is too ordinary a fare to stand on its feet. At best, it might appeal to a small section of moviegoers [kids]. That's about it!