Thursday, December 2, 2010

Nandhalala - Tastefully etched!

Mysskin’s third film was lying in the cans for about two long years. Thankfully, it didn’t stay there. His promising debut with Chithiram Pesudhadee was followed by a riveting Anjadhey and this Nandhalala is daringly different from tamil films we have seen thus far. The film was gripping enough for me. But I was amidst only 30-40 people in a theatre which could seat 950! And the reactions & comments I heard made me doubt if I was lacking in sense or if they were lacking in taste. One guy was snoring during a mellifluous song – Height of tastelessness.

The film is about a kid & an asylum patient who happens to be a kid at heart and their search for their respective mothers for entirely different reasons. One wants to hug and kiss her, the other wants to slap his mother for sending him to an asylum and absconding. Their pursuit is presented as a wonderful road-trip where they meet usual & unusual characters, understand things & subtly develop a bonding that gets unshakable towards the end. When they end up knowing about the circumstances their mothers are in, their intentions take a volte-face and the kid finally ends up getting a kind-hearted but socially exploited woman for a mother. When he kisses her & the lunatic-turned-normal man turns to acknowledge that, the impact hits you on the head & the maker succeeds with that, atleast in my case!

The film is inspired by Kikujiro, a Japanese movie. Mysskin has taken the plot from that film and has taken pains to tweak it and present it differently. Very few scenes from the original have been retained. Some of the characters are retained but are presented unlike. For example, the fatso characters had much to do in Kikujiro but here their roles are restricted. The sex-worker character is non-existent in the original but is brought in here – with relevance or not is a different question.

The main characters are Ashwath Ram (who plays the kid Aghilan) & Mysskin (who plays the lunatic Bhaskar Mani). They both have essayed their roles convincingly. Mysskin’s might be regarded by some as overacting but he’s mentally challenged & his portrayal is acceptable. In some scenes, he startles with amazing expressions. Snigdha (of Kathaazha kannala fame) plays her small role passably & there are some characters brought in for humour and they end up doing that successfully (a lorry driver, a sports-car youth gang & fatsos).

Mysskin,as a director, scores in the tweaking of characters – especially the character of his mother – played by Rohini (shocker!) and some of the symbolic unique touches he employs. Dialogs are few and far between but they impress on many occasions. On the flip side of his execution are the unconvincing characterization of Snigdha’s role & her flashback narration. It is a non-event in the film.

The curious things about Nandhalala are the unusual camera angles employed & the music-less dialog-less sequences. These are proof enough to the fact that Mysskin is a big fan of yesteryear stalwart director Kurosawa. One very appreciable thing about the film is that the camera and its zoom-in zoom-out have been used in scenes to single-handedly provide slapstick humour. That is a daring attempt & the thinktank shall take a bow for that.

Editing is also peculiar for a tamil film but in this section, the style employed in Kikujiro seems to have been honestly adopted.

If the two main characters form the cerebrum & cerebellum of the film, the heart and soul of it is represented by the background music offered by Maestro Ilaiyaraja. That is probably the reason why his name is shown first in the credits. With his lilting, soul-stirring, supreme, blissful etc etc.. music, he pulls the strings, not only of the instruments, but also those of our hearts. One’s heart cannot escape from skipping a beat when he listens to Raja sing 'Thaalatu ketka naanum', aided by an apt scene. Onnukonnu & Mella oorndhu songs have been picturised well but it is a pity that the other wondrous songs (Kai veesi & Oru vaandu kootame) have not been immortalized on screen.

To sum things up, Mysskin adds another feather to his cap with a tastefully woven lullaby that is Nandhalala& it is only fitting that he wanted to direct Kamal next. But that didn’t materialize. Hope it happens someday. If & when that happens, we are in for a treat ‘o’ treat.

Verdict: The film is already a flop, won’t be in theatres for long. Watch it atleast in a CD/DVD,for, what it shows and how it shows the what are entirely new for a tamil film!!

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