It is a revenge story, being told in the backdrop of the underworld scene in Kochi. The protagonist Varadanunni (Indrajith) is a Kathakali artiste, who is taking on the mighty kingpins there, with the help of an ageing don Vincent Karanavar (Thilakan) and his daughter Maria (Dhanya Mary). Obviously he has some reasons for doing so. The best thing about the film could be its intelligent use of Kathakali to narrate the story. From the costumes to the characters that Varadanunni chooses to play, there are some links that gives an altogether different mood.
The story has been divided into some parts like Purappadu, Kelikkai, Thodayam and Kalasham. The style with which the film is being narrated is perhaps a new one in Malayalam, though it is an already attempted format everywhere else. But the film tends to lose its grip in the second half and at around 140 minutes, is a tad too lengthy one for its genre and theme. A better storyline with a more disciplined approach and of course, a better script would have taken the film to an altogether new level.
Indrajith's performance as Varadanunni is one of the finest performances that need to be appreciated. He has toned his body quite well to suit his role perfectly. It's a pity that such a talented actor is not used very well by the filmmakers here.
Thilakan underlines why he is such an inevitable force in Malayalam cinema with a brilliant show. Siddique is good at times, but then, it's his unduly lengthy role and the confusions surrounding him that are the weak links in the whole film. Watch out for the director's brief role and also a brilliant performance by the actor who plays a brash cop, which are among the highlights of the film. The heroine, Dhanya Mary, however fails to impress with her acting though she looks quite beautiful.
Nayakan has its heart at the right place and the credit for it should mainly go to its director, whose signature is there all along. Manoj Paramahamsa's visuals and Prashant Pillai's music are among the best things about the film. The back ground score and sound design also make things look impressive.
But of course, the script of the film is rather an amateurish one, which lacks enough strength or at times, even logic. The story progresses on irritatingly predictable lines at times and things become boring, after a while.
But it's quite normal that you tend to forget the flaws and appreciate the best things about Nayakan, due to its inherent honesty. It may not be there among the best, but the hard work that has gone into its making needs a pat. At least this could be an attempt at the right direction in Malayalam cinema, which seems to meander aimlessly during the recent years.