Nenjamundu Nermaiyundu Odu Raja Movie Review: An ineffective, done-to-death emotional drama
Yet another 'checklist' film that aims to impress all sorts of audience, but the only boxes it ticks are the wrong ones
Remember the classic interview scene from Mudhalvan, where Raghuvaran challenges Arjun to take over his seat, to try and do things for a change, instead of just shooting questions from the opposite end? Nenjamundu Nermaiyundu Odu Raja (NNOR) feels like the product of a similar challenge to the team of Black Sheep, which kickstarted one of the more interesting film review shows on YouTube. But, unlike Arjun who rises up to the challenge, Black Sheep, unfortunately, do not. The inconsistency in treatment, hyperbolic performances, and predictable storyline, all add up to a film that is only on par with a play staged by middle-schoolers.
Having said that, NNOR cannot be branded as an out-and-out bad film either. Whenever it doesn't take itself seriously and gives us outlandish comic bits, it shines. Sequences like the one where a paati fears the atrocities of the soon-to-be-rich Shiva (a highly impressive Rio Raj) and Vicky (Vigneshkanth) and runs for her life shouting, "Ivanunga nilaavuku poi vada suttu kuduka solli thorathranga pa," leave the audience in splits. Though scenes like these remind us of their good old YouTube videos, the bright moment is spoiled the very next second with ill-flavoured racist and sizeist jokes. Vigneshkanth either gets a score that goes "Idly gunda," in the background or is put down with a line like, "Africakaran laam yen da inga vareenga?" Seeing this from a team, which is considered progressive, is more than a little disappointing.
Cast: Rio Raj, Vigneshkanth, Shirin Kanchwala and Radha Ravi
Director: Karthik Venugopalan
NNOR has more than one connection to Rajinikanth's Arunachalam. Both films have cinematography by UK Senthil Kumar and they also share a similar plot point. The taskmaster here is Radharavi and he offers a huge amount of money to Shiva and Vicky provided they complete three challenges. Though these tasks initially spike interest, the excitement fizzles out every single time a character breaks the fourth wall and preaches about the problems in society. It's high time filmmakers realise that they are actually preaching to the choir with their messages, and that the reason most people visit theatres is to escape their already awful reality.
The portrayal of journalism is yet another problem in NNOR. In reality, no matter how big a piece of 'breaking news' is, the focus will always be on the news and not the reporter who breaks it. But in this film, director Karthik choses to ignore this and portray a TV reporter as an ever-anxious and annoyingly-nerdy person sporting butti kannadi and jolna pai.
For a film that preaches at length about the importance of standing up for the right things at the right time, the only character who is pure-hearted and selfless in the film is the mentally-ill Mani. It felt strange to realise that he is also the only believable character, the rest of the performances being so over-the-top. A big shoutout to Ram Nishanth who convincing pulled off the role, and I quite liked the writing in the scene where a character looks at him and asks, "Unaku enna pa ne lusu enna vena dhairiyama ketpa, engalala mudiyuma?"
The film has its share of ups and lows, but it hits absolute rock bottom during the final act involving Vivek Prasanna. The actor plays a ruthless killer, who, for some weird joy, plays Ilaiyaraaja duets like Kodiyile malligai poo while committing homicides. The climax, where the audience is expected to be emotionally moved, evokes unintentional laughter brought on by the innuendo in the husky background song that goes, "Let me kill you.. Podava? Podava?"
NNOR is yet another 'checklist' film that aims to impress all sorts of audience, but the only boxes it ticks are the wrong ones.