When it was announced that Pa Ranjith is producing a love story, I would have least anticipated this. He has sparked a significant debate about contemporary love in this generation and connected it to societal, political, and community ideals to challenge the idea that love is a very natural phenomenon that has evolved with humans. The setting he has picked for this debate, a theater where a play about love and social influences is being planned, fits in just well and has worked wonders.
Ranjith wrote a clever screenplay because he wants this story to be conversational yet also not being a sermon, and there isn’t a better “Stage” to make that happen. Naturally, no Pa.Ranjith movie would be complete without the blending of his political and communal ideologies, and “Natchathiram Nagargirathu” is no exception. Ranjith is fantastic with his writing as he opens the doors for all potential viewpoints on love, including casteism, ideological differences, conservative love, LGBTQ+, and what else. The conversation is nail biting, and the characters are new but also relatable and honest. Every character is complex in their own distinct way, and superbly written so that we can ask questions of and learn the answers from them.
Rene (a) Thamizh, played by Dushara Vijayan, is arguably one of the strongest female characters I have seen recently. Her portrayal is spot-on, neither underplayed nor overdone. Every character has a role to play, and they are all absolutely amazing, including Iniyan (Kalidas Jayaram), Subeer (Regin Rose), Medellin, Ayya Durai, Dayana and many more. Despite having a difficult role to perform, Kalaiyarasan is incredibly believable as “Arjun.” He goes unnoticed until the pre-intermission moment, when he receives one of the best parts and takes over. Few actors and directors have consistent good working chemistry, and Hari Krishnan-Ranjith continue to have it, and was evident in this film too.
Most scenes were expertly choreographed, but the turmoil at Arjun’s house may be one of the most genuine scenes with top-notch acting from every performer. The movie’s first half speaks volume, leaving the second half to wrap up the discussion. With a much-needed high, the surprise conclusion arrives, and the stunt was brilliantly choreographed. Ranjith steps out of his comfort zone, Santhosh Narayanan, for the first time and ropes in Tenma to compose for this film who fills that space with his outstanding BGM. The songs are a huge plus and especially ‘Rangarattinam’ is lyrically the storyteller. The theater show, which serves as the film’s central theme, as well as its rehearsals and surroundings, are beautifully shot by cinematographer Kishore Kumar.
As usual, Pa Ranjith makes a significant statement, but this time it’s with his unusual plot yet more powerful storyline: love.
- Cast: Dushara Vijayan, Kalidas Jayaram, Kalaiyarasan, Regin Rose, Hari Krishnan and others
- Written and Directed by: Pa.Ranjith
- Cinematography: Kishore Kumar
- Music: Tenma
- Editing: Selva
- Produced by: Yazhi films and Neelam Productions
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This is Madhan Ranganathan (a) Felix Kingsley - Behind the Mirrors
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