The first few scenes of Maheshinte Prathikaram and Nimir are the same on paper. We are introduced to a pair of fairly used slippers that are being cleaned meticulously. While Mahesh (Fahadh Faasil who plays the lead in the original) just places it on the banks, a cinematic moment is created around Udhaynidhi. Selvam (Udhay) lifts the pair of slippers high above his head like a trophy in a gesture that feels close to triumph. After an unassuming introduction, Maheshinte Prathikaram gives us “Idukki” — a song that is vibrant and rich in culture. Here we get an equally flavoursome “Poovuku”, that showers us in nostalgia from the villages we used to see on screen in the 80s. However, the effect is a bit marred when the song is partly used as a dance number. Probably the most commercial trope ever, we have random women dancing around the fields with bare midriffs. Nimir is a fairly faithful remake that quite serves its purpose except for the times it plays to the gallery.
There is nothing wrong with Nimir, but the remake doesn’t quite match the innocence and effectiveness of the original. A ‘slice-of-life’ drama, what worked for me the most in Maheshinte was the minuscule surprises that were thrown our way. We aren’t ‘told’ what happens, we just get to know. Take the first phone call between the lead character and his girlfriend. In Maheshinte, the call just serves as a mere introduction of the role of the girlfriend. However, in Nimir, we get enough material to judge the character, that makes her later conundrum ineffective. With a boyish Udhay in centre, Nimir feels more like a ‘coming of age’ drama (Even the title is suggestive of the same). The effect is compounded with the fleshed out relationship between Selvam and his father (Mahendran). In place of his cryptic one-word pointers, we get wordy answers. Just like the women who dance in the intro song, the return of Selvam’s ex-girlfriend at the end of the film is probably Priyadharshan’s biggest shot to the gallery. And somehow that tired bit around the ‘admonishing, dominating wife’ seemed to still elicit raucous laughter. Sigh.
The film’s visuals are breathtaking. The Thenkasi in Nimir reminds of the wonderful colour palette our villages inherently possess and Priyadharshan has made the most of it. It is also a throwback to a lifestyle that is now almost extinct — one where water bodies are convergent points of human interaction. Aiding to the visual aesthetics, the music is splendid. Ronnie R Raphael (background score), Darbuka Siva and Ajaneesh Lokanath give some spectacular music. Nimir’s music and windy sonic hues breathe effervescence into the pretty frames.
To sum up, Nimir’s honest, laid-back narrative is bound to make you reel in nostalgia if you haven’t seen the original. For those who have, expect a fairly faithful remake that overreaches at points to satisfy the mainstream and you won’t be disappointed.