The lead character claims to be a software professional working in America. How'd we expect them to be? Smug bastards. How do we want them to be? Down to earth. Money and modesty appears to be a killer combination. We surrender ourselves to such people. People would rather see Rajinikanth in a lungi, half-shaven at a theatre that caters to the economically lower classes than in a suit at a five star hotel with young women. The politician who poses for the camera in front of a hut with slum dwellers is more likely to secure votes.
Once, I felt modest people were pretentious. But I came to realize that their so-called modesty is driven by fear, not by a misguided morality. Mostly fear of getting carried away and letting the ego inflate, only to be popped by an unforeseen event of failure, which feels like a red carpet, one that you forgot even existed, being pulled from under your feet.
I seemed to have digressed. Ajay (Siddharth) is on a visit to India. He sells sundal and tea, sings and plays with newspaper delivery boys, and rescues the elderly from being overcharged by auto-rickshaw drivers by beating their track records. He is nice to everyone around him, not by choice, but by default. Is he a pretentious altruist? It seems so. Is he going to become a typical hero beating up bad guys, saving women and doing good for everyone around? He could be. This is where I saw the film heading. The truth is, he's a compassionate man at peace with himself. How is that even possible? It's an ugly world out there and everyone's fighting to survive. You should be worried about tomorrow. He doesn't think about tomorrow and for that, there are valid reasons.
Nootrenbadhu is a terrific film. It may not be completely subtle but it is entirely believable. Subha's screenplay has been worked over a few times. I think that's what has helped craft the film so well. Cutting between Ajay's past and present does the storytelling. The flashbacks aren't continuous either. It shouldn't be, unless, it is narrated to someone or read from a personal diary. Here, the past is shown by nostalgic recollections stimulated by non-living things.
The acting is good; especially that of Siddharth, who knows the right amount of restraint required in playing the character. The female characters are barely written though. Well, that's a regular case in Tamil Cinema which's female characters are either homely or over energetic imbeciles that is when they're not raucous mothers. The music is a success, not because it's pleasing to the ear, but because it brings back memories of the emotional experience. The cinematography is purely functional and I'm thankful for that. We don't need unnecessary distractions, just to be held in a state of awe. Every aspect is kept at controlled levels thereby making nothing stand out other than the film itself.
Films mirror life. Director Jayendra's experience isn't just from his work as an ad filmmaker but from living life. He understands the film's source material and treats it with maturity. Nootrenbadhu has both high and low spirits but it tugs at your emotional chords mainly in the second half. Without losing its dignity. There're several occasions where the film could've slipped into corny melodrama but it avoids every one of those potholes. You're probably looking at the rating and expecting something brilliant. No, there isn't a flash of brilliance but instead, a big heart and an empathetic soul giving it honesty, meaning and eloquence.
Critic: Rohit Ramachandran
(4 / 5) : Very Good