Natchathiram Nagargirathu Tamil Movie
Director Pa.Ranjith has completed a decade in Kollywood. He started with a flirtatious love tale through "Attakathi" in 2012. It was different, and spoke about the lives of people whom Kollywood did not count in until then. The director's voice was shrill in his debut. In his subsequent films he made sure to voice out loud and clear the miseries of the Dalits and the marginal class. With 'Natchathiram Nagargirathu' (NN from now on) he has come full circle, depicting the various forms of love.
NN depicts the lives of different individuals and their take on love. It happens in a theatrical milieu, wherein people with an artsy edge converge. We get to see various representations from the LGBTQ+ communities. A staunch liberated and free thinker like Tamizh alias Rene (Thushara). A male chauvinist like Iniyan (Kalidas). A conservative casteist like Arjun (Kalaiarasan).
A gay couple. A lesbian couple. A man married to a transgender. A man in his fifties, openly expressing his romance for a foreign lady who might be half his age. A crude comedian with a family, and a director of the play who tries to neutralize and balance things among these people.
It is a mouth-watering concoction of human emotions and characters, hand-picking different individuals from contrasting paths of life. It makes a typical case for deep character analysis. If one were to analyze each character, it might be justified only through a web series. A 153-minute feature can only bring out the arcs of the lead characters, namely Rene, Iniyan, and Arjun.
The movie is conversation-driven. It throws in various aspects of casteist oppression and other such predicaments the society imposes. Tushara's character is not new to Tamil cinema. 'Kalki' from the stables of Balachander and many of his previous movies had such characters.
However, coming from Ranjith's stables, she is given a Dalit identity and is made to narrate her miserable tale and how she has managed to work herself out of it through her identity. The character is debatable. While we can fantasize about a character like Rene, how practical can one be like that? But, Rene is like that and she would not change herself for anyone or anything. Let's leave it at that.
Iniyan is another interesting character that was underwritten. He is that chauvinist who wants to have an upper hand over his lady. He finds himself often pushed to a corner with Rene's bold and pragmatic arguments. His character arc was also decent, and his chemistry with Rene was excellent.
Kalaisaran's arc was empathetic. As a spoiled brat who belongs to a conservative upper class, his exposure to people and his opinion on inter-caste marriages raise eyebrows. As an odd one in the group, we can empathize with his pain. We feel for him as the movie progresses, and his transformation was organic.
Gnanaprasad, who plays Ayya Durai brings comic relief with his spontaneous one-liners and reactions. Charles Vinoth as the wise old crack added to the flavor. Subhathra as the lesbian was another natural casting who supports Iniyan and other characters in their tough times.
Pa. Ranjith shows that his film language and craft stand tall. Though the movie had no room for sophisticated technicalities, the making was neat. I wish Tenma's BGM was as good as depicted in the teaser and trailer. The editing was also slick. The narrative was constantly beating around the bush and the film's length made it tedious after a point.
We get those refreshing moments now and then, but a theatrical milieu might not be suitable for everyone. The movie breaks into an artsy song mold now and then which the common audiences might find weird. The climax looked pretty ordinary with a typical villain (Shabeer) being roped in to close the curtains.
With all this weirdness, Pa.Ranjith's film worked to an extent because of its lead cast and the free and liberating theme, and the thought process behind it. Natchathiram Nagargirathu might not be for everyone. It is coming-of-age and yes, the stars are moving, whether one likes it or not!