‘Nee-Na’ is not a regular title for a Malayalam film.

Actually, it’s an acronym of the first syllables of the two women in this triangular love tale.

Neena (Deepti Sati) is a single, young advertising professional with an I-couldn’t-care-less attitude.

Nalini (Ann Augustine), on the other hand, is a mother to a school-going boy and is happily married to Vinay Panikker (Vijay Babu), Neena’s boss. The Panikkers have recently moved to Kochi from Mumbai and Vinay is happy about the relocation.

If Neena is impulsive and smokes and drinks all the time, Nalini is calm and secure in the bond that she shares with her husband.

Vinay’s first encounter with Neena happens at an office party when in an inebriated state she falls into the pool. Vinay pulls her out and takes her home.

From then on Neena takes a liking to Vinay and creates situations to get closer to him. How does this affect Nalini’s marriage?

Directed by Lal Jose from script written by R. Venugopal, Nee-Na is clearly not the stereotypical story of the other woman.

Shorn of melodrama, Nee-Na is also the story of Vinay, who from being an understanding boss finds himself drawn into a vortex of emotions.

What is beautiful about this triangular story is that the other woman is not painted as the evil woman. She is not out to destroy another woman’s life, but is an insecure woman who is grappling with issues of her own.

Nor is the man painted as a reckless husband. Vinay loves Nalini immensely and shares with her everything that transpires between him and Neena. It’s that openness that actually gives Nalini the confidence to trust her husband. She even extends a hand of friendship to Neena, but the young woman clearly tells her that they can never be friends.

Sati shows potential and on her first film impresses with a remarkable performance. Augustine very subtly portrays an anxious Nalini who resorts to binge eating, yet does not seek solace in griping about the ‘other woman’ but calmly waits for her husband to return home. Without making any noise, she actually wins the hearts of everyone.

Babu does a neat job as the man caught between two women. If Babu impressed viewers as Sunny Kurushingal in Peruchazhi, his Vinay Panniker commands respect. While the first half has Babu playing an understanding boss and a loving husband, it’s in the second half of the story where his acting abilities are put to test.

Babu shines as he brings to the fore the feelings of Vinay who suddenly finds that he is no longer wanted by Neena.

Nee-Na is an emotion-laden narrative that also packs in a positive message about the benefits of de-addiction. It’s a mature love story where adults sort out issues in the most practical way.