Post BLACK if there was any doubt about Hindi cinema coming of age, here's further proof that our movies ain't going back to the song-and-dance formula in a hurry? at least not in the same way that we once knew and, yes, loved them.
Let's get down to brass-tacks right away. NAINA has no songs, no dances, no kitsch and none of the fourmulistic flourishes which make Hindi cinema so darned hard to digest outside home territory.
In fact this is one of the most cosmopolitan films in the Hindi language. The dialectics and dynamics of the supernatural drama are so liberated of idiosyncratic ideology that we often wonder if debutante director Shripal Morakhia has deliberately steered away from convention, just to be one-up on his kitschy colleagues in Mumbai.
It doesn't take Morakhia long to disabuse us of cynicism. His grip over the narrative is as strong as the spooks that haunt our heroine after her cornea transplant.
Suddenly Naina can see a lot more than she had bargained for. Ripping off a page from Manoj Night Shyamalan's theory of supernatural elements co-existing with the human world, Morakhia weaves a yarn that's bloodcurdling in its spooky ramifications.
Scenes showing Naina connecting with supernatural elements send a chill up our spine. There are scenes showing Naina's premonition of mortality that horrify immensely.
Not that C.K. Muraleedharan's cinematography lacks in an inner vision in this film that tells us seeing is not just about believing. Dammit, seeing isn't about optical vision either! It's about reaching a hand into the other world and touching troubled souls. The writer and director's beliefs in the idea of spirits that sublimate the human soul are crystallized by the compelling camerawork.