Ardent Ajith fans would remember the memorable sequence towards the end of his popular film Citizen, that involved a passionate courtroom disquisition from him from the witness stand, about a lost village and corruption in the system. Ajith is back in the courtroom again, this time as attorney Bharath Subramaniam, putting other people on the witness stand and trying to prove the innocence of Meera Krishnan (Shraddha Srinath) and her friends.
The case in question, as alleged by the prosecuting Adhik and his friends against Meera, is that of assault leading to grievous injury. She’s just swung a bottle to Adhik’s face and he could possibly lose an eye. But here’s the catch, Meera and her friends contend that her actions were merely defensive in nature, against sexual advances made by Adhik without consent.
Nerkonda Paarvai is a remake of the hard-hitting Hindi film Pink. Shraddha Srinath steps into Taapsee’s shoes and Ajith into Amitabh Bachchan’s. And H Vinoth as the director has the unenvious job of making these shoes fit!
As they contend in court, Meera and her friends Famitha and Andrea, are just normal working women sharing an apartment, trying to put food on the table at their homes, leading a trendy and modern lifestyle. But the cringe-worthy society they are a part of would just not let them be!
Be it nosy judgmental neighbours or ‘image-conscious’ corporate bosses, everyone seems to look at them through a clouded lens. Well crucially, everyone except Bharath! Interestingly, we the audience are not shown the full events of the fateful night either, till the credits roll at the very end of the film. Are the writers trying to tease our allegiance too?
Rangaraj Pandey (playing Sathyamoorthy, Bharath’s nemesis in court) tries his best to build an argument in this regard. Bharath’s opening arguments are not convincing. His ongoing issues with bi-polar tendencies and mental depression don’t help the cause. Neither does the fact that he has literally been out of touch with courtroom proceedings, due to a rather unfortunate personal tragedy. But to the delight of fans and more importantly, Meera and her friends, Bharath shakes off his rustiness and rises majestically! His arguments become incisive and cross-questioning assertive. This is all Ajith’s show now and you just can’t take your eyes off as the film rumbles on to a riveting finale.
Very few things in cinema can be more thrilling to watch than a well written and executed courtroom drama. Films like 12 Angry Men, that came out more than sixty years back, are still loved and serially watched to this day.
Closer to home, just like I wrote about the concept of ‘death’ last week, courtroom dramas haven’t really been explored widely as a genre (I can only think of Manithan from recent times as I write this, but readers, please feel free to add more to this list in the Comments)!
Though Vinoth had a ready-made template available in the form of Pink, it has to be said that so much could have been lost in translation if not for his attention to detail. He has had to alter a few character sketches, add a few massy scenes and still stay within the framework of the original film. Take the ten-minute stretch just before the intermission for instance - a pulsating action sequence, definitely written exclusively with Ajith and his fans in mind. But instead of becoming intrusive, I thought this added to the film’s tempo and helped establish Bharath’s character that had been mysterious and under wraps to that point.
The fact that Vinoth is a master at choreographing low light action sequences added a lot of weight to this too (remember Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru)? Overall, the only thing that I thought was a little off when compared to the original film was the casting. Or to be more specific, the sleaziness that the antagonists brought to the scenes. For instance, the actors cast as Rajveer and his friends in Pink were a tad more effective than the actors who played Adhik and his group here. I could probably also say the same about the Lady Police inspector’s role.
But this small aberration apart, Nerkonda Paarvai is definitely a pathbreaker in Tamil cinema. The very thought of a feminist male protagonist is probably a first! Overall, this splendid courtroom drama has definitely done ‘justice’ to it’s original!
Shrikanth is a Chartered Accountant, who keenly follows and writes about cinema when he is not crunching numbers or balancing ledgers! You can find more of his work at Non Linear Plot
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