Filled with outrageously loud, grey characters, Nedunchalai (Highway) is set in south Tamilnadu and packaged smartly making it an exhilaratingly edgy movie experience. This is a tough story to tell and yet, director Krishna immerses you into it so totally that you almost stop breathing.
It delivers shock and delight in equal measure as it portrays the life of Murgan (Aari) from childhood. He starts his criminal life by stealing rice and grocery items from running trucks taken from Tamil Nadu to the North. His mentor is Sekhar (Salimkumar) who uses him to his advantage with the support of local policemen.
Manga (Sivada) along with Parotta Master (Thambi Ramaih) runs a road side dhabba on the highway. Life turns topsy-turvy for Murugan and Sekhar when new Sub-Inspector Masanimuthu ( Prashanth Narayanan ) takes charge. The Ganja smoking cop is cunning, corrupt , pervert and womaniser who has an eye for Manga. Murugan locks horns with Masani and a cat and mouse game starts.
The performance from every cast member is outstanding. Aari immerses himself in the central character of Murugan with such conviction and controlled flair that it becomes impossible to separate the actor from the part. Malayalam National award winning actor Salim Kumar as the manipulative Sekhar is very impressive.
But it is the new find Sivada who steals the show. She lights the screen as she executes the loud, aggressive and righteous Manga with a lot of style and élan. She handles the unpredictability of her character with great ease. The credit for another brilliant performance goes to Prashanth Narayan (of Murder-2 fame) as the film’s dirty villain he rocks.
The camera by Ragavel, especially the night shots is riveting and music by C Satya are good. However, at 150 minutes it is a long ride, with too many speed breakers in the form of songs including a totally unnecessary dream song. A tighter scripting and judicious editing would have helped.
Krishna has done a decent job. The over-the-top characters along with their spontaneous dialogues make Nedunchalai worth a look. Despite its minor flaws, it makes-up with style and excellence.
Verdict- Worth a ride