Neruppu Da: A fairly fiery affair
While Neruppu Da isn’t Vikram Prabhu’s best till date, there is little doubt that it is sure to engulf his recent bad films like a forest fire
The last time I liked a Vikram Prabhu film was way back in 2014 when Sigaram Thodu released, and after a string of disappointing films including Sathriyan earlier this year, my expectations were at a bare minimum as I walked into the theatre to watch Neruppu Da. Part of me expected a bit of variety this time as Vikram Prabhu also makes his debuts as a producer.
Cast: Vikram Prabhu, Nikki Galrani, Mottai Rajendran, Madhusudhan Rao
Director: B Ashok Kumar
Despite being as vital as the police and the armed forces, save for cameos in films like Michael Madana Kama Rajan, Virumbugiren and Dishyum, Tamil cinema hasn’t really paid homage to firefighters. Neruppu Da follows the trials and tribulations of five youngsters who strive to become firefighters after they witness the heroic acts of these lifesavers. Obviously, it isn’t going to be a walk in the park, and as with any commercial film, there is a love track, family sentiment, friendship goals and of course, a deadly villain.
Vikram Prabhu, though shown as the alpha male of the group, has delivered a subtle performance which really works. From his filmography, it is apparent that he’s beginning to opt for the commercial route, and films like these really serve as good platforms. Nikki Galrani, though getting an intro that promises a bigger role, doesn’t have much to offer, and keeping in fashion with the films of this genre, she appears only in a handful of scenes and songs. The film lacks a strong antagonist despite a decent show by Madhusudhan Rao. While on lacklustre performances, the Mottai Rajendran trend is fast fading. His comedy track evokes more irritation than laughter.
On the brighter side, what worked for me were a few one liners from the supporting cast. In one instance, Madhusudhan’s character (Puliyanthopu Ravi) gets into an accident favouring two people who are planning on kidnapping him. When one guy spots Ravi inside the damaged car, he shouts, “Dei, Ravi da”. The other character responds, “Yaaru, Jayam Ravi ah?” I guess it’s the sort of joke you have to see to appreciate. Sean Roldan’s music comes in handy too. The background score especially provides able support. It’s a decent comeback for him after the VIP 2 fiasco. As the producer, Vikram Prabhu has opted for RD Rajasekhar as the cinematographer and the two have previously collaborated in Arima Nambi. His expertise has come in handy in showcasing the quarters backdrop in really aesthetic fashion and the ‘build up’ shots with fire in the background in slow-mo are a visual treat.
The screenplay is sluggish and there was more than one instance where it seemed like the interval was nearing, only to be proved wrong. The film could also have afforded to lose a song.
In the second half, the film picks up pace and gets more interesting once the whodunit plot kicks in. Director Ashok Kumar wins everytime he gives us a ‘been there, seen that’ scene only to end it in an atypical style.
He keeps challenging the audience with twists and turns which conspire to end up in a major reveal in the climax.
But this ‘mother of all twists’ looks forced despite a stellar performance by an artiste who makes her comeback to Tamil cinema with an author-backed role.
While Neruppu Da isn’t Vikram Prabhu’s best till date, there is little doubt that it is sure to, if you’ll pardon me for the expression, engulf his recent bad films like forest fire.