The movie starts off with aspiring chefs Dev (Ashok Selvan) and Tara (Ritu Varma), on their first days of work at a Michelin starred restaurant run by a strict head-chef played by Nassar.
From the beginning, the visuals portray contrasts between the male and female leads and they’re stereotypical to an extent, as Dev lives in a typical messy-bachelor-apartment where doormats also double up as towels while Tara lives in an apartment that can pass off as the clean room of a research centre.
Dev has mysterious muscle spasms that are comical and creepy to people around him while Tara has obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) which makes her a meticulous worker and a neatness freak.
Both set out to impress the head chef and though Tara is not trusting of Dev’s skills, she eventually realises his calibre and he even goes on to impress Nassar’s character with his cooking skills. After starting off on wrong notes because of their contrasting lifestyles, they start collaborating together as chefs in the restaurant before finding themselves accidentally locked up in the restaurant’s cold-storage. As to what happens after that and their discovery about each others’ issues makes up the rest of the story.
The film gives a much-needed understanding of what mental health issues are like and the importance of mental healing. While these are usually dark and taboo issues, Ani Sasi tackles them in a light-hearted manner, emphasising on how they need to be handled and tackled in the right manner. It broaches suicide, OCD, hallucinations, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and a few other mental health issues in a way that haven’t probably been seen in Telugu cinema so far.
This, the simple visuals and the light-hearted tone of the movie, overall, make up for the slightly predictable nature of the film and make for a good cinematic experience.
Performances wise, Nassar’s portrayal of a strict, intimidating chef is reminiscent of celebrity chefs like Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay and while he hardly says anything throughout the movie, the way he carries himself is testimony to his decades in the industry.
Ashok Selvan makes his Telugu debut with this film, having acted in several Tamil films earlier and he portrays the bumbling chef’s character well. Ritu Varma’s portrayal of Tara could have been better but is decent.
Overall, it is worth watching this film on the OTT platform where it has been released. The duration could have been reduced by 30 minutes at least but it is an entertaining, feel-good film and a must-watch if you want to know the importance of mental healing.
Movie: Ninnila Ninnila
Director: Ani Sasi
Cast: Ashok Selvan, Nithya Menen, Nassar, Ritu Varma, Satya