Cast : Nayanthara, Jai, Sathyaraj, Karthik Kumar, Achyuth Kumar.
Nayanthara’s 75th film is Annapoorani, a tale of a girl from Trichy whose ambition is to be the best chef in the country. The movie is predictable, so much so that you want to just rush through most scenes to get it over with. You know the conflicts that are going to arise, you know the struggles she’s going to face, you know there is certainly a woman empowerment angle there. With so many promising, even though predictable storylines in the film, it doesn’t manage to tug at any heartstrings or evoke an emotion from the audience.
Nayanthara plays the role of a young girl, Annapoorani, who lives in Trichy with her family. Her father is Rangarajan, played by Achyuth Kumar a priest at the Srirangam Temple and is responsible for making and serving the prasadam to the deity. She belongs to a pure vegetarian family and that’s the first challenge she faces in the culinary world.
She aspires to be a well-renowned chef and to get to that, she enrolls herself in a catering college in her town. Her first challenge as a vegetarian is to cut chicken as part of her curriculum. It is a conflict between her beliefs and value system, but she gets through it with a minor hiccup and does not just cut and cook non-veg dishes, she even starts to eat them. What happens when her father finds out and the subsequent series of events that take place from the movie’s plot.
We see a young girl look up to her father, she respects him and aspires to be like him, in some way. There is an affection and a bond that you see between the father and daughter, it’s endearing and very relatable. He takes immense pride in his religion, he is an engineer by degree but chose to be of service to god. For him, service comes before work. Annapoorani admires him, but when her relationship with her family comes at the cost of her dreams and ambitions, she chooses the latter.
The movie has a lot going on, from a father-daughter bond to the under-representation of women in commercial kitchens to following one’s passion, the subplots are too many and the loose ends are never tied. It had potential, it was led by a woman, the co-actor Jai is a mere support system and has nothing more to contribute to the storyline, just like a heroine would in a regular Tamil film. It has some refreshing takes, but you tend to forget them all in the fog and smoke.
A film about food should make your mouth water, you should want to leave the theater craving for a delicious fare. It’s disappointing how so many potential winning aspects of the film are done so half-heartedly.
The movie is touted as a ‘full family entertainer’ but will a family be able to sit through the boring first half of the film to see the not-so-boring second half?
Nayanthara looks prim and proper in every frame, she looks like a dream, whether it is her pattu pavadas or a chef’s coat, she is perfection. But she is also the main lead in a film that’s depending on her performance and star power. Somehow, the acting is below average and her ‘star’ power takes away from her role as a small-town girl aspiring to make it big. Jai, Sathyaraj, Achyuth Kumar and Kartik Kumar do best with what’s given to them. The other characters in the film are mere caricatures or comic reliefs.
Debutant director Nilesh Krishnaa does a decent job in his first, but the writing of the film is weak and foreseeable. The conversations about religion and food are nice, it does have punch lines that deliver,
The movie could be called a ‘one-time-watch’ or a feel-good family drama, but at a time when OTT is serving you platters of well-made films and shows, will a film so average as this brings audiences into the theatre?
Verdict : Nayanthara’s film’s feeble attempts at women’s empowerment and one-dimensional father-daughter dynamics fail to work.