Shankar the showman of south has left his huge canvass aside and attempted to make something different, probably his first remake which has no larger-than-life hero or massive sets. It's a breezy entertainer and it's got its heart in the right place. It is emotional, entertaining and enlightening. The film has tremendous youth appeal, feel-good factor and is a sort of movie that you’ll take home with a smile.
Nanban has an interesting premise- Two buddies Venkatramakrishnan (Srikanth) and Sevalkodi Senthil (Jiiva) set out in search of their long lost friend Panchavan Parivendan aka Pari (Vijay). They have a nerd Srivatsan (Satyan) for company and in intermitted flashbacks we are told that Pari, a bright, yet free-spirited student, who through his charisma is able to convince his two friends to think for themselves, follow their heart and take challenges with a positive attitude chanting his mantra- All is well.
Pari wants to change the education system and often lock horns with Professor Virumandi Santhanam (Sathraj) the Principal whose says- ”Life is a race- Run Run Run”. He wins the heart of Virumandi’s daughter Riya (Ileana) and the film is about his journey. The film touches a chord as it urges us to examine our lives and to question the rules by which we live it.
It is an all-new Vijay that you will see in Nanban. No introduction, action, punch lines or over-the-top romance and he play an engineering student with conviction. He emerges as the emotional soul of this film with a graceful, restrained performance. Jiiva and Srikanth are at their best. But same cannot be said about a skinny Ileana who plays Riya. She does not light up the screen when she's around like Kareena did in the original. Satyaraj as Virumandi and Sathyan as Srivatsan shines.
Technically the film is brilliant with Manoj Paramahamsa’s excellent camerawork, Resul Pookutty's sound design and Harris Jayaraj's peppy songs like Askku Laska, Irukaannaa... However, Nanban isn't without hiccups. Overly long, especially in its second half, the film suffers on account of few dramatic indulgences like the delivery scene where Pari follows instructions on a web cam and uses a suction device or the scene where Riya elopes from the kalayana mandapam!
In the end, Nanban is an engaging film with noble intentions. It deserves viewing because films like this are hard to find.
Don't miss this film.