Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Nadodigal


Sasikumar sure appears to be the golden boy of Tamil cinema right now. After literally exploding onto the scene (as director) with the raw and powerful Subramanyapuram and then producing the refreshingly fun Pasanga, he has moved to other side of the camera, taking up acting duties in Nadodigal (the film is directed by Samudhirakani, who acted in Subramanyapuram). An ode to friendship, the film walks the line between realism and melodrama but does end up on the right side of that line overall.

Karunakaran(Sasikumar), Chandran(Vijay) and Pandi(Bharani) are thick friends, each having his own ambition and dream in life. Karunakaran, a B.A. (History) graduate, is trying for a government job since that's the condition his uncle has laid out for Karuna to wed his uncle's daughter(Ananya). Chandran's dream is to run a computer institute while Pandi is trying hard to go abroad. Karuna's friend Saravanan shows up and when Karuna and his 2 friends learn of his love affair, they decide to help him.

In the opening scene, Sasikumar, who is trying to join the police force, visually sizes up the height of the potential competitor standing before him in the line. This is humorous and tells us what joke is. But he then proceeds to point out the height disadvantage explicitly with his hand to stress the fact. He repeats the same - convey the situation with his eyes and then make it obvious with his hand - once he moves back to stand behind someone shorter than him. This sequence highlights the fact that subtlety is not one of director Samudhirakani's strengths. He is a director who likes to spell things out to make sure everyone gets the point. But this actually has the opposite effect, diluting the impact. This happens several times throughout the movie and is the biggest reason for the film not having the same impact as Subramanyapuram.

While the movie's focus is on friendship, it doesn't aim to pursue it at the expense of everything else. The fact that all 3 protagonists have a goal in life ensures that we aren't subjected to another movie where the heroes while away their time smoking, singing and dancing, with their only goal being to show how strong their friendship is. And though Sasikumar's family is familiar, with a frustrated dad and a supportive mom, other characters, like Vijay's dad or Bharani's dad, have individuality and aren't submerged under the shadows of the three heroes.

The sequence where Sasikumar and friends snatch Saravanan's lover is a bravura sequence with enough suspense and tension to make a thriller proud. More importantly, the actions of the three friends here illustrate the importance they give to friendship. Very few words are spoken during the time but the intensity with which they perform their tasks works much better than words ever could have, to show us their desire to give their friend what he wants and see him happy.

Melodrama takes over as we see the friends suffer the repercussions of their act. While the first consequences they suffer because of their act really jolt us, things get repetitive after that. There is that aforementioned need to really drive the point home, only in this case its the emotional state of the protagonists rather than a joke. But the result is the same. The initial impact wears off and the sympathy the threesome earned gets quite thin by the time their troubles end.

While the film's core point about friendship does come through, its message becomes a bit jumbled towards the end as it appears to say that friends have a say in the outcome of their selfless acts. But Samudhirakani manages to convey even this in an interesting and acceptable manner and rounds off the film on a humorous note.

Sasikumar has had enough experience in Subramanyapuram to play the devoted friend and fits the role well. He isn't very expressive but has good screen presence. Vijay is mostly serious while Bharani gets a few laughs as the guy looking for love at every chance. Ananya initially overacts terribly with expressions that would make even Jyothika inexpressive but makes an impression once things get serious. Neha looks pretty but doesn't have much to do.Sundar. C. Babu's songs sound good and Sambo Siva Sambo... is perfect in the background during the kidnapping sequence.

19 Comments:

At 12:21 AM, Blogger skanda said...

ur review does not sound very good compared the 'ahaas' "ohhhs" heard about the movie. that had deflected my expectations a bit and may not catch it in the cinemas. Sasikumar is having a steady run as a Director, producer and actor, Cant think of any other actor than Kamal who are succesful in all three aspects.

 
At 12:52 AM, Blogger pagala'k' said...

That's a perfect review. The elope sequence with Sambo-Siva-Sambo in the background is probably the 10 best minutes filmed this year. You got to the interval on a high. Unfortunately after that its downhill.

 
At 12:57 AM, Blogger pagala'k' said...

BTW @Skanda, Sasi is just a few films old. There is some dignity to his acting but I am not sure he is in the same league as Kamal. There were a few sequences in Nadodigal where his expressions were pretty flat.

He could probably match Kamal, but at the moment it is still too early to call him successful in all 3 departmenrs.

 
At 2:09 AM, Blogger skanda said...

Sasi makes the right choices, even his acting may be flat, but still he acts in a 'better' movies compared to all the other actors whose movies are not worth 5 cents. But he looks like the type of actor who might improvise in the future. hope he continues, acting,producing and directing good movies.

 
At 9:27 AM, Blogger subbu said...

let me tell you,this is one fabulous movie that i have ever seen.only if you watch it another time you will understand the depth of it.even kamal in his initial days would have had the same experience.sasi would evolve as a great actor.
kamal dint become big just in two to three films,it took a dozen movie to prove his potential.he was very small n tiny in 70's remember.even he had done so many mistakes

 
At 12:21 PM, Anonymous vijay said...

Guys like Cheran and Sasi are probably better left behind the camera.why does Cheran continue to still act(even if he picks decent films, much like Sasi) is puzzling.

 
At 12:24 PM, Anonymous vijay said...

Subbu, Kamal was actually pretty good in 70s KB movies. He also pulled off a chappaani when he was still in his early twenties. Plus Kamal had all around talent that made him a saleable star. Sasi,who is probably already in his thirties, is nowhere in that league. This is an apples to oranges far-fetched comparison.

 
At 3:08 PM, Anonymous arun.k said...

Well, let's not get carried away here... sure, Sasikumar is a promising talent but why these comparisons to Kamal??? To give credit where it's due, it is indeed heartening to see someone succeed in different capacities in the industry. I think he was also one of the distributors of the movie 'Poo' last year... so there you go, it's 4 out of 4 for the guy :-)

And, I'm not sure how many know this.. but the girl who acts as his sister in Nadodigal - Abhinaya - is born deaf-and-dumb. I was stunned at what she has achieved.

Finally, I found the movie itself was to be quite boring... especially the second half.

 
At 10:18 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

skanda, sasikumar's definitely having an incredible run. not too many with a similar resume for sure :)

pagalak, I'd probably put it the opposite way. he has proved himself to be a success in all 3 depts but has a long way to go :)

subbu, don't agree with u on the film itself but I do hope sasi doesn't disappoint us after this fabulous start :)

vijay, i'm guessing its because he started liking it once he did it :)

arun, thats 2 pieces of news! didn't know about sasikumar being a distributor and didn't know about abhinaya either(I actually called her Neha in the review!). thanx!

 
At 11:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

bravura sequence? songs sound good? interesting and acceptable manner? i think you're grading on a curve, :-)

 
At 9:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

superb movie....one shud see the response in the theatre for the movie....the movie has reached the masses to a great extent....clappings all arnd in the theatre....

 
At 1:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

3 types of love..3 diff endings in the movie...wonderful movie...heard tht its a msaaive hot across all places...

 
At 5:14 PM, Blogger Mukund's Rambles said...

wow balaji, the insight and critical points upon the plot of the movie you give are perfect, lol, maybe you think about directing a movie!

 
At 3:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The movie is going to be remade in hindi...vivek oberoi gonna play sasi's role....

 
At 5:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

movie is also goin to be remade in telugu it seems....

http://sify.com/movies/tamil/fullstory.php?id=14900400

 
At 12:16 PM, Anonymous kabaali said...

It won't be long before this fellow Sasi is consigned to the consortium of Thalapathis who "rule" tamil cinema. Given his success rate, I have a moniker that would fit him well, "Vettri Thalapathi" (is there any other kind ?). Oh btw, when the mighty fall in tamil moviedom, they become thalapathis.

 
At 1:46 AM, Blogger arunfox said...

i totally disagree with this review .
no film can be 100% .there will be some pitfalls here and there.
the second half for me has been slowed down to really absorb the excellent kidnap scene.if it had continued at that pace,the movie would have exploded at some point.since it slows down a bit,the last act again gets us going and movie finishes off well.the dialogues are excellent.
those who value friendship will cherish this movie rather than look for mistakes and make it look ordinary

 
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