Nagaram review: The thriller element is decently sustained
It is a decent crime thriller
Thursday 9 March 2017
Sundeep Kishan, Regina Cassandra, Sri, Charlee, Ramdoss
Nagaram, a human drama at its core, tells at least four stories that coalesce into one finale. It's a screenplay-based thriller.
Sundeep Kishan is unemployed and the only job he knows is to fall in love with Regina Cassandra. Like those typical filmi heroes, he thinks he is unemployed by choice. He looks raw and unsophisticated in total contrast to Regina, a soft-spoken hi-tech professional in an IT company.
Sri, a new migrant to the city (the film is set in Chennai), finds the metropolis quite unsettling. He sees it as an unfriendly place where the gullible are taken for a ride. Certain goondas mistake him for Sundeep and beat him up, taking away his academic certificates. From this point onwards, Sri's life becomes harder and harder and Sundeep, without his involvement, is causing him the hardships! As Sundeep's fate would have it, Sri is in Regina's good books.
Adding a rich texture to these tracks are those of a positive-minded taxi driver (Charlie is simply brilliant) and an amateurish kidnapper (played by comedian Muniskanth), both of whom draw Sri and Sundeep into their lives through their respective acts.
The crux lies in how these four people go through a challenging sequence of events and emerge victorious at a moral level. All of his happens in the backdrop of the mistaken kidnap of a school-going kid, who is the son of a ruthless don (Madhusudanan as PKP) shaking Chennai.
The biggest strength of Nagaram is the screenplay technique. The hyperlink narrative style is not only a technique, but also a tactic. It can conceal the ordinariness of events by keeping the audience guessing about how the different tracks will meet at a junction. Before you realize that it's a routine track, the film abruptly shifts to one of the other tracks.
Something of this sort keeps happening on and on in Nagaram. But it's the highs that keep it gripping. Once Muniskanth’s character is introduced (in the very first scene, it becomes clear that he is a dumbo who will execute the kidnap plot poorly), the film takes off quite well.
All the four key characters belong to the middle-class, and all the four have a certain innocent charm about them.
That said, the film has certain Kollywoodish trappings about it. Sri's character sketch is a case in point. Even as you think he is a timid guy, he becomes so fierce as to be capable of beating up professional rowdies in style. Even in such cinematic moments, however, human emotions keep the proceedings touching. Charlie may be a poor father who has to earn money so that he can treat his ailing son, but even in such dire straits, he nurtures no ill will against the tyranny of the metropolis. The way he bats for Chennai, saying that millions of migrants find their livelihood in such cities, the way he changes the thinking of the unlucky Sri, is terrific.
As much as Sundeep has done a commendable job, it's to note that his role is not larger. Perhaps, a couple of scenes involving Muniskanth should have been chopped off to make space for Sundeep. His hairdo and aggressive body language, the way he woos Regina without coming across as an arrogant stalker (like those Tamil heroes), is interesting. Regina Cassandra does not have much role in the film.
Muniskanth's comic style totally lacks nativity. It's difficult to watch him in so many scenes for the reason that his reactions seem over the board. Charlie has this uncle-next-door vibes about him. The scene where his wife asks him why he hasn't painted his son's name on the taxi's back window is so realistic. Towards the climax, this element makes a reappearance in a crime scene.
While Nagaram looks convincing in parts, you are likely to feel that the whole is not as thrilling. There are moral problems also. Is a corrupt cop more immoral and cruel than a don who mercilessly tortures and kills scores of people? How fair is it to put innocents in trouble in avenging an acid-attacker? Selvakumar's cinematography is quite adept. The frames are soothing, helped also by Philomin Raj's editing. Javed Riaz’s BGM may be somewhat inspired, but it is quite a feast. The dialogues lack Telugu nativity.
Nagaram comes with hyperlink screenplay. The thriller element is decently sustained. It's tightly narrated. The performances (especially by Sundeep Kishan) are mostly natural. Despite slow proceedings and lack of nativity, it is decent crime thriller for sure.
Nagaram review: 3 ½ stars