A still from Hi Nanna
A still from Hi Nanna

Hi Nanna review: Nani-Mrunal Thakur’s emotional drama holds interest only in parts

Hi Nanna, written and directed by debutant Shouryuv, has many small, memorable moments that do not exactly redeem the film as a whole.
Hi Nanna (Telugu)(2.5 / 5)

It looks like the season to celebrate fathers is here. Ranbir Kapoor’s dad-son saga Animal hit theaters last week and this week, we have Nani’s Hi Nanna, another film about fatherly love. 

Hi Nanna, directed by debutant Shouryuv, starring actors Nani, Mrunal Thakur, Jayaram, and Priyadarshi among others, is a refreshing story about the relationship between a father and daughter. In the film, Viraj (played by Nani), is a fashion photographer based in Mumbai. As a single parent, he takes care of his daughter Mahi (played by Kiara Khanna) who battles a life-threatening lung condition called cystic fibrosis. Mahi is kept in the dark about her mother, and the mystery around this and how Yashna (Mrunal Thakur) is connected to it, forms the rest of the story. 

Hi Nanna initially convinces us to believe that the plot is just about the father and daughter. But as it progresses, it turns into a beautiful love story between Viraj and Yashna. Mrunal Thakur delivers a phenomenal performance, making up for the missing screen time in the first half.  Director Shouryuv, who has also written the film, has fleshed out the character well, and the neat writing allows Mrunal to showcase a range of emotions. 

If Mrunal takes away the limelight for most of the film, Nani reclaims his thunder with a single dialogue when he asks his daughter, “You have always thought about your mother. Have you ever thought about this father?” In this scene, Nani makes it impossible for the viewer not to cry, and one feels that there could not have been a better cast for this film. 

Though the film works emotionally in a few parts, it has its share of flaws. The first half concludes with a surprising twist, but the latter half does not make much progress. As a pointless filler to this vacuum, Shruthi Hassan appears in an unimpressive cameo. The placement of the song Odiyamma also slows down the flow and tone of the film. 

The twists feel forced as well. For instance, the motivation of the character who caused the breakup between Viraj and his wife is very weak. Yashna keeps repeating the dialogue ‘It doesn’t add up,’ and we are left feeling the same. The reason why Viraj parts with his wife does not make much sense either. Sure, he may have been manipulated, but we are not told how well he has understood his wife of three years, who he is convinced, wanted to leave over a minor conflict. 

As a result, Hi Nanna becomes a tedious watch in the second half until the pre-climax, which has some interesting dramatic moments. Albeit all its shortcomings, Shouryuv steers away from the pre-existing narratives in Indian films and reveals the final twist in a very unanticipated manner. But these small moments do not exactly redeem the film as a whole. 

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film’s producers or any other members of its cast and crew.

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