An Entertaining 'Whodunit'
By MovieTalkies.com, 22 May 2009
Romilla Mukherjee spins an entertaining tale in her maiden film, Detective Naani, using as her protagonists, an old woman the Naani is this case, a dog, two precocious kids, a couple of teenagers and, of course the cops who come in and help out solving the mystery. Detective Naani is the kind of movie which should appeal to both children and adults alike. There is a feel good factor to it as well as the old Naani manages to outwit the villains with her common sense and homespun logic. Through this simple whodunit tale, the director is able to talk about a serious crime, that of child trafficking, with an underlying message that the true heroes are always simple ordinary people like any one of us. In choosing an old woman, the Naani as her hero, the director manages to hammer in this point, but in a very gentle and humorous manner.
The story begins, like in the best of thrillers, on a regular day at the housing complex that Naani (Ava Mukherjee) lives in. The director very efficiently manages to build up her character as an independent, sharp and dependable woman. The mystery is introduced very early on in the film as well as Naani spots the face of a young child peeping out from one of the apartments above hers. Since the couple living in that flat are childless, Naani's curiosity is aroused. However, even before she can solve that mystery satisfactorily, Naani spots the body of a young woman lying in the building courtyard one night. A body which subsequently disappears mysteriously, minutes later.
Since Naani's story is laughed off by the CID, she decides to turn detective and solve the mystery herself. Helped by a couple of teenagers living in the building, a retired gentleman who spends the whole day peering into his telescope and her two precocious grandchildren, Naani manages to crack the mystery. But she actually treads into dangerous territory as the crime is something more serious than she would have bargained for. She stumbles upon a child trafficking racket and finds herself captured by the villains. But the ingenuity of her grandson, along with some timely help from the CID ensures that Detective Naani is the real hero of the day.
What really works for this movie, more than the mystery is the character of Naani and her very eccentric and yet very homely methods of working and solving the crime. Actress Ava Mukherkjee, who has played the graceful and doting grandmother in many an ad over the years, fits the bill of Naani perfectly. Her grace and gentle demeanor works wonders for the role of Naani. She seems to be the perfect Naani, someone most children and adults would easily identify with. Her methods too seem to be nothing extraordinary. Using her natural powers of observation, Naani is able to outwit the thugs. Of course, some of her methods are quite humourous, like the way she pays the sweeper to bring her the garbage from the flat above so that she can hunt for clues. Mukherjee is supported brilliantly by the child actor Zain Khan, whose detective hangup, saves the day for Naani. The other members of the cast like, Amrita Saluja, Shweta Gulati, Amit Verma, and Ankur Nayyar too turn in good performances and add value to the movie.
In all, Romilla makes a very entertaining, clean, fun film, which can be enjoyed by both children and adults alike. The most remarkable thing about the film is the many little details that Romilla manages to work in. Her characters, her neighbours, the grandchildren, the dog and the CID officers are very well etched. Shweta Gulati and Amit Verma's characters as the two teenagers, are the romantic track of the movie. Also the romantic song between them may seem like a diversion but is an interesting hummable number. Also, she could have worked in the chemistry between Naani's daughter and the CID Inspector a little more obviously. She introduces it, however the story goes on to explore the mystery bit instead of the romance angle
In the final analysis, however, Detective Naani succeeds in providing truly entertaining fare. A must watch and a definite breather to the movie-starving audiences!