A peek behind the silver screens is what I thought Jayaraj's Nayika had on offer. How disappointing to find out then, that the yesteryear heroine and her life that the film dwells on isn't really the stuff that makes an interesting reflective movie.
Gracy (Sharada) has seen better days as an actress who has had it all - be it fame, adulation or money - and now, old and lost, leads an illusory existence along with her makeup woman (KPAC Lalitha) and dance master (Jagathy Sreekumar). Aleena (Mamta Mohandas) finds potential documentary material in Gracy, and attempts to unravel her past that she had forgotten long back
Nayika is a terribly confused film, in that it wants to gobble down too many things at once. It would have perhaps been a better film, had it remained focused, and told us the story of an actress who has seem her prime, but unfortunately it isn't satisfied with just that. Hence it goes ahead, and drags a murder mystery into the midst of it, leaving the entire film messed up.
Its not that there aren't any links between the chief narrative and the sub plot, but this bond is fragile, that it seems ready to snap at any moment. Ever since Vaani (Sarayu) walks into the picture, the film that is already on all fours, topples down further, with no hopes whatsoever of getting on its feet ever again.
This doesn't really mean that the first half of the film is without any flaws. In fact, the flaws far out number the merits in the former half as well. Too much of time is spent dwelling on Gracy's muddled present, and her past is revealed to us in parts. Those of us who have been expecting an unveiling of an eventful tale are in for a disappointment, because Gracy's story is half as interesting as many other showbiz stories that we have heard.
There is the obligatory bail at the beginning of the film, that the characters and events are fictitious and bear no resemblance whatsoever to persons living or dead. Why is it then that there are so many obvious references to people and events that we know? Jayaram plays an actor whom he has always mimicked to perfection. Anand, as this actor has been named in the film, is depicted as having a terminal illness, and is shown with a nose bleed that he attends to, during shoot breaks. Obviously another actor whom we have heard of, comes to mind. The war of the Studios is brought into the picture as well, and while one Studio has been named 'Greenland', it's opponent is named 'Vijaya'.
Performances are solid in the film, and Sharada infuses life and soul into the character that she portrays, incredibly. Padmapriya, who plays the actress' younger self, matches up to the veteran and delivers a competent feat. And of course there is Jayaram, who brings in an extra warmth and grace to his portrayal of Anand.
This might sound ironic, but the film looks and feels and bit too long for a life story that is far too slight. The attempts at pathos fall miserably short, and the emptiness of several of those scenes ensures that there is nothing new in 'Nayika', or for that matter nothing much either.