Saturday, February 19, 2011

Nadunisi Naaigal: Curate's egg

Appeared in Expresso, the daily supplement of The New Indian Express, Bangalore on 21, February 2011

The one director in Kollywood who christens his movies in chaste Tamil, and focuses on themes that few self-proclaimed champions of that language would identify themselves with - Gowthaman Menon (it is a paradox that he is a Keralite) - is back at it again: a movie with a pure Tamil title, Nadunisi Naigal (dogs of the midnight), and an unorthodox movie subject, a psycho-thriller and child sexual abuse.

Nadunisi...builds suspense from the word go; the title credits open with a police inspector falling backwards in slow motion after being felled by a bullet on to a pool of rainwater in the dark. Three police personnel are shot dead and a girl goes missing from a hospital. A police inspector Vijay (Deva), starts investigating the crimes.

The scene later shifts to Samar, a boy who gets sexually abused by his father regularly (shades of Bharatirajaa’s Sighappu Rojakkal are impossible to miss), who, at times, even dreads entering his house. A neighbour, Meenakshi (Swapna Abraham), notices something amiss, and alerts the police, who while rescuing Samar, are forced to kill his father. Meenakshi, a single woman, decides to adopt Samar.

The narration is interspersed with footage of a man speaking to a camera, a la Robert De Niro in Righteous Kill, who describes his sexual exploits with attractive women, followed by their murders, in different mannerisms as he has been afflicted with multiple personality disorder. By the interval, chances are high that the viewer may break into a cold sweat, thanks to the gripping pace of the narrative, aided by the lack of songs.

However, a similar thread runs in Nadunisi… and two other recent movies that focused on the urban milieu – Yudham Sei and Easan: that of a meandering and predictable second half.

The portrayal of MPD in the movie has no novelty and seems to be a rehash of similar scenes from Anniyan and Chandramukhi.

On the portrayal of villains as sophisticated persons, Menon takes off from where he had left in his earlier movie, the Kamal Haasan-starrer Vettayadu Vilayadu. Swapna, Veera and Sameera Reddy (whose role deserves special mention) perform well.