Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Nepali


Virumaandi and Aaydha Ezhuthu showed us that familiar stories can be made to look fresh with non-traditional screenplays and director Dorai has taken this lesson to heart. So he takes a familiar tale, splits it up into three different tracks and presents it to us in a non-linear fashion. This novelty in narration does help but only upto a certain point since no amount of screenplay tricks can completely cover up how cliched the underlying story is. The uneven nature of the individual tracks doesn't help either.

The film switches between three tracks. In one, we see a young man(Bharath), who seems to be of Nepali origin, walk into the house of a software engineer and kill him in a methodical fashion. We soon learn that he has more victims planned and the police, who get photographs from him about his intended targets, are hot on his chase. The second track takes us to prison, where we see a prisoner(Bharath) trying unsuccessfully to commit suicide. Locked up in a punishment cell for this, he befriends another prisoner(Govind Namdeo) who is in jail on a trumped-up drug charge. And in the third track, we see a software engineer Karthik(Bharath) romancing a college girl Priya(Meera Jasmine). After unsuccessfully trying to convince her parents, the two elope to Chennai and start their life afresh.

Since the three tracks have no common characters(Bharath, ofcourse, is a common factor but he looks different in each and we have no idea if he is playing the same character in all the tracks) and we are not sure about their chronology, it is not immediately clear how they relate to one another. So the movie raises a number of questions about the links between them and that is a surefire way to gain our interest. But eventually, the movie keeps us in this mode for too long. The tracks do move along nicely but suspense turns to irritation as they show no sign of converging even after the 2-hour mark.

The multiple tracks and the extended suspense also have the effect of raising our anticipation regarding the final revelations when they do converge. So its comes as a disappointment when it turns out to be the oldest plot device in the book. But that said, Dorai finishes the film on a superb note with an unexpected - even if borrowed - sleight of hand that makes us assume a particular ending before turning things around.

The three tracks make up a nice trio since they deal with very different scenarios. The track with the Nepali Bharath is naturally the most interesting among the three. While the seemingly random murders keep us hooked regarding the motive behind them, the investigation by the police, which has its own clever moments(like the way they decipher the meaning behing the word Gouri, which has been scribbled on the wall by one of the victims) and ridiculous deductions(like the way they come up with the time for the next murder based on the phrase "Wonderful Times") keeps up the tension as they close in on Bharath. Ofcourse, the foundation of the track is a bit shaky since there is absolutely no reason for Bharath to give all those clues to the police in the first place. The track in prison resembles the scenario seen before in movies like Adhu Oru Kanaakkaalam, with the pathetic conditions and the sadistic warden. But the movie manages to keep things reasonably realistic(in other words, there is no song where the prisoners provide the background score with their aluminium plates!) and paint a rather nasty picture of life in prison. The romantic track ends up the weakest of the three since the romance is not convincing. But the impact the track does improve when things take a turn for the worse.

Bharath carries off the three roles convincingly. While his hairstyle and get-up are more noticeable in his roles as the engineer and the Nepali, he earns our sympathy as the prisoner(though the lack of any background to the character is a stumbling block). Meera Jasmine looks a bit mature and doesn't display a lot of chemistry with Bharath, though one can't blame her for not trying. Raja Ravindar earns our hatred with a suitably underplayed role of the obsessed cop while Prem fits the role of the cop on Bharath's trail. The movie boasts of a slick look and maintains a serious tone most of the time. The quick editing and unnecessary graphics in the beginning threaten to give us a headache but are thankfully toned down later.

11 Comments:

At 1:08 AM, Blogger Bart said...

The review was almost in line with my views.. I linked the three Bharaths as Present, Past and inbetween from the beginning and hence no confusion. But other than creating some interest in the outdated story line (Gajinniyan :)), the narrative had no reason behind it to be told that way.
There were some unexplained stuff as to how bharath comes afree to kill the jailer, why bharath sends his plan to police, where he learnt all those killing methods, why he speaks in that irritating stuttered fashion, no relations of Bharath etc.. One major minus is that Meera Jasmine's character doesn't evoke much sympathy at the end.
Srikanth Deva has hardworked to fill the ears in every second of the movie.. The editing and freeze frames were a bit too many. No song stays in memory.
Felt the movie is still worth a watch for the narrative and the intelligent moments.

 
At 12:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

off topic.
balaji did u check out dasavatharam trailer ?

 
At 7:52 PM, Blogger Srivatsan Sridharan said...

http://technicalwizs.blogspot.com/2008/04/dasavatharam-trailer.html

BB this is unofficial trailer :)

 
At 10:24 PM, Anonymous parthi.nv said...

It seems now the producers are going to cut down some scenes of Raja Ravindar and 'intimate' scenes of Meera Jasmine. With already not much of sympathy for the lead characters, I don't know how the edited version going to work.

 
At 10:39 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

bart, yeah all that unexplained stuff was a real pain. i was also a bit confused about what exactly govind namdeo was in jail for and all that stuff about some 'Anniah' :)

anon, yes :)

srivatsan, thanx :)

parthi, i thot the scenes in prison would be affected since the complaint was about the entire police force being shown in a bad light. didn't know about the scenes u mention being chopped off.

 
At 11:59 PM, Blogger Bart said...

Balaji, Govind namdeo was in jail under the false charge of "Ganja" smuggling. Actually (intended), he is "in" under the pressure of "Anniah". Anniah is that hotel owner, whose sex exploits with his hotel staff has been investigated and recorded by Govind Namdeo in his study. So, the jailer is shown in constant touch with anniah to make sure the govind hands over all the original docs and proofs that he has collected.
But the problem is that all this has to be understood by us and not made explicit anywhere. So, if you happen to miss the movie a bit or not in line with it, u wud miss it. Many reviews say the movie is confusing - maybe because the intented story didn't come out that well on screen :)
Looking back, not sure why that Nepali character had to dance b4 killing that software manager !! :) (Dhanush's kadhal kondaen effect is still carrying on....)

 
At 12:00 AM, Blogger Bart said...

BTW, to be noted: anniah is a name parallel to annachi, of Saravana Bhavan, who was jailed sometime last year for similar reasons..

 
At 10:44 AM, Blogger Kay said...

BB,

Where did you see the movie?

Kay!

 
At 12:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This movie wasn't as bad as it has been made out in the press. I liked the slick visuals and director Dhorai's sense of staging. I thought the non-linear narration was a neat trick to freshen up a cliched story. However, the vigilante Bharath track was somewhat brain dead. The murder sequences are completely preposterous. If you are a serial murderer, would you try to be as less conspicuous as possible or would you call attention to yourself by posing as a nepaali in tamilnadu?

 
At 6:09 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

Bart, thats cool. i don't think i missed any part of the movie but I didn't get the "sex exploits with his hotel staff has been investigated and recorded by Govind Namdeo" part at all. thanx!

and nice link there to annachi :)

kay, from the net :)

anon, LOL. i did think bharath had no reason to send those photos to the cops but thats a good question about him standing out by dressing up as a Nepali :)

 
At 4:37 AM, Blogger aliens said...

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