Neruppu Da: A Premise with Potential Traded for Mainstream Clichés.
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Director B Ashok Kumar’s Neruppu Da has a slightly interesting first half. Amidst all that hero worship, a few threads of the story manages to sustain your interest for a while. Unfortunately, the film falls apart halfway through, discrediting all the fascination it builds in the first sixty minutes. Its disastrous climax makes you wonder why the director decided to take up an interesting premise, only to waste it on overused storytelling clichés. Neruppu Da is a recent addition in the long list of mainstream Tamil films that loses sight of the bigger picture.
Guru (Vikram Prabhu) and his gang of four friends are aspiring fire-men. Their penchant to save lives lead them to carry out many life-rescue missions amidst deadly fire accidents. A day before they get ready to take their Municipal Firefighter Examinations, they get caught up in an accidental murder. Soon, they learn that the man they killed is gangster Pulianthope Ravi’s (Madhusudhan Rao) best friend. Hereon, the film follows Ravi’s thirst for revenge and Guru’s efforts to break free of the consequences.
For a film that bases its premise on fire-fighters, Neruppu Da has barely anything to do with firefighting. Barring a few montages of rescue missions, the rest of the film takes the formulaic route of a hero who has to save his loved ones from unimaginable terrors. This formula of hero overcoming hurdles to achieve his goals worked quite well in films like Dhil, Dhool and Saamy because it was a relatively fresh concept back then. But recycling old elements and stuffing it in a premise that could’ve been so much more, accounts for the director’s carelessness.
The story’s conflict is weaved around a murder. This conflict in itself has immense potential for suspense. But instead of building up tension and expectation, the film places a halo behind the hero’s head, worshipping him through every frame. Considering that the murder is actually carried out by Guru’s friend, you would expect to know something about the lad, but you only get to peek into Guru’s ambitions and goals. The others are forced to fade away. So, the promise of Guru having his friends’ back comes across as superficial.
In the second half, the director tries to leave the audience guessing by putting many plot twists into action. But these conventional twists fall flat due to their unoriginality. There is no radical change in the story that goes unsuspected. The climax reveal is most definitely the worst of the lot. It feels completely unrelated to the rest of the film. What is the point of employing disjointed plot twists?
Furthermore, the second half is quite tiresome to sit through, especially because the hero defeats the villain a little too early in the film. Long after the intimidation of an opposing party comes to conclusion, the film proceeds to stretch itself out with scenes that are completely void of purposeful conflicts.
Neruppu Da also has an inconsequential romance track. Why break into a romantic song amidst dreamy locations in the middle of a serious narrative? How long will directors forcefully insert a love story that has no connection to the actual plot? The film’s distracting love story manages to suck the air out of whatever little suspense the screenplay tries to create.
Vikram Prabhu has honed his acting skills. Compared to his previous releases, he makes efforts to hold his own in emotional sequences. But considering the kind of competition that exists in the Tamil Film industry, he has a long way to go. Nikki Galrani has nothing to do in the film. One will never know why many mainstream filmmakers in the Tamil Film Industry find it so difficult to sketch a female character with some kind of depth? Ponvannan plays Guru’s father in the film. His characterization as a sanitary worker is simple and his portrayal too, moves you in a few scenes. It is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate between Madhusudhan Rao’s performances these days. He is immensely repetitive in his performance. In fact, his appearances in all his films are one and the same. This familiarity takes the mystery out of a villain’s characteristics.
Cinematographer R.D Rajasekhar has helmed many masterful films. Rhythm and Khaaka Khaaka in particular have distinctive strokes of his brilliance. Compared to his previous work, the visuals in Neruppu Da lack innovation. It proves to be sufficient but it lacks his trademark of uniqueness.
After Kadhanayagan, this is yet another below-par album from music director Sean Roldan. The key notes of his sound-tracks lack the punch this story demands.
On the whole Neruppu Da would have fared better if it had watered down the hero worship and shifted its focus to constructing a story that explored the premise of fire-fighting much more extensively. Due to the detour it takes, the film proves to be quite a tiresome experience.