Naachiyaar: A Sub-Par Investigative Drama That Lacks Depth
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Naachiyaar is an investigative drama and yet, it doesn’t pack enough mystery for it to be racy or unpredictable. It has the elements of a signature Bala film. But it lacks the depth that is used to tie these elements in an interesting screenplay. This film is proof that it is time for director Bala to step out of his comfort zone and summon the auteur inside him; who was once quite an experimental and daring story-teller.
Naachiyaar (Jyothika), a foul-mouthed cop sets out to investigate the rape of a minor, Arasi (Ivana), who is now pregnant. Initially the investigation leads her to Kathavarayan (G.V.Prakash) who claims to have raped her. Soon after he is sent to juvenile prison, it comes to Naachiyaar’s attention that the baby Arasi is carrying doesn’t match Kathavarayan’s DNA. The lengths she goes to, in order to hunt down the actual criminal forms the crux of this story.
From Sethu to Paradesi, Director Bala’s films have always carried a lot of depth. There is a lot of melodrama too but the thought-provoking stories he chooses to tell forced you to overlook the loud emotional treatment in his films. In Naachiyaar though, that arresting depth is never found. It appears as though the director has chosen to play it safe in this outing of his. There is a premise for so much more, but from suspense to drama everything is merely touched upon, leaving us disconnected from the narrative. Without his signature brand of deep and meaningful exploration of the topic at hand, all you are left with is loud, jarring and unconvincing melodrama.
In comparison to the generic first half, the second half of Naachiyaar is far more interesting. Only in the second half do we understand why Naachiyaar has a soft corner for the girl. Her investigation too spikes your interest only post interval. But owing to the kind of influential films Bala has made, you undeniably expect more from him. A story that should’ve been child’s play in his hands becomes an un-stirring spectacle instead.
Time has come for Director Bala’s character construction to evolve or at least take a different shape. Take Kathavarayan (G.V Prakash) for instance, he is clearly a juxtaposition of Surya and Vikram’s characters in Pithamagan. Even his hair-style is similar to that of Vikram’s. This particular character appears to be written in an inconsistent manner. In a few scenes, Kathavarayan seldom says anything indirectly channeling his inner Chithan (Vikram) and in other scenes, he is dumb, playful and even talkative like Shakthi (Suriya). When this sort of characteristic similarity seeps on to a filmmaker’s consecutive story, the excitement of getting to know a character and the mystery surrounding their journey tends to die early on. So, instead of viewing Kathavarayan in his own elements, you’ll end up drawing comparisons.
The titular character Naachiyaar too appears to be hastily written. Sure, Naachiyaar’s angst and her rebellion strike a chord with the audience. The fact that she is her own woman wins the heart of the audience too. But there is no reasoning behind her core characteristics. You can see that she carries around a lot of anger, she cusses a lot too. But you are never given an explanation for the anger inside her. You never get to peek into why she is the way she is. Due to this, her anger comes across as superficial. Her body language and tough persona too isn’t written deeply enough for it to appear convincing. For example, In Pithamagan, you are told why Chithan never speaks. You are taken through the horrific things that have happened to him. So, eventually you warm up to his quirks. Such an explanatory base track is non-existent in Naachiyaar.
As Kathavarayan, G.V Prakash delivers his best performance till date. But the actor still has a long way to go. His portrayal might be realistic but it is also increasingly inconsistent. In one scene, he is simple and takes the organic route to acting but in the very next moment, he hams his way through the dialogues. Though this is his first step in the right direction, he has an incredibly long way to go before he can successfully hone his acting skills.
Jyothika owns Naachiyaar in a way no one can. Every time she delivers a punch-line, the audience erupts with applause. Playing against type, she walks in the shoes of a foul-mouthed cop with utmost conviction and effortlessness. As Arasi, Ivana is raw, uninhibited and mostly good. The amateurism she brings with her helps her character appear realistic.
Cinematography is the weakest link in Naachiyaar. It is either too over-the-top or too ignorant. In moments where the visual suspense should’ve been top-notch, it falls short of capturing the true essence of key scenes
Just as expected, the Bala-Ilayaraja duo delivers good music. The BGM serves the narrative quite well. But it isn’t really innovative or new, that’s where the problem lies.
On the whole, Naachiyaar has a crisp runtime and a premise with potential but due to a lack of depth, it fails to catch you by surprise.