Dushara Vijayan stands out as Rene.
Natchathiram Nagargirathu (Tamil)
- Cast: Kalidas Jayaram, Kalaiyarasan,Dushara Vijayan, Sindhuja Viji, Shabeer Kallarakkal and Charles Vinoth
- Director: Pa Ranjith
- Producers: Vignesh Sundaresan and Manoj Leonel Jahson
- Music: Tenma
- Runtime: 2 hours 50 minutes
Love in the age of the millennials. Love in the age where diversity is embraced wholeheartedly. Love in the age where honour killings continue to be part of the culture. Love in the age of caste politics.
What is love? Does pure love exist? Does love truly transcend all barriers? Does love really conquer all?
Director Pa Ranjith’s Natchathiram Nagargiradhu shows us how humans visualise, perceive and interpret love with caste, gender and class, thereby shaping our thoughts.
Film as a stage play
In this film, the director has adopted a novel approach in cinema: Using stage play as a medium to communicate with the audience.
We meet Iniyan (Kalidas Jayaraman), Tamizh aka Rene (Dushara Vijayan) and Arjun (Kalaiyarasan), who are part of a theatre troupe in Puducherry. The troupe decides to stage a play around love and how caste politics affects it.
Rene and Iniyan are chosen to play the couple in love and, in fact, they were a couple.
Rene, an Ambedkarite, is an independent, progressive woman who believes in walking the talk. A Dalit by birth, she has seen her share of insults and hatred over the years.
All these only make her stronger and she grows into a person who isn’t bound by the shackles of society anymore.
Rene and Iniyan, an upper-caste young man, are in love with each other. However, their relationship turns sour due to various factors, caste being one of the major reasons.
Meanwhile, Arjun (Kalaiyarasan) visits Puducherry from Salem to try his luck in films. He joins their theatre group to hone his acting skills.
He is conservative, transphobic and small-minded. He is engaged to Roshni and his misogynistic mindset is seen in the way he interacts with her.
Even as he tries to get along with the theatre artists, Arjun is taken aback when he comes across love within the LGBTQIA+ community: Sylvia (a transwoman) and her boyfriend Joel, a lesbian couple, and a gay couple.
But he keeps his views to himself till it all gets unleashed one night.
Reflects today’s love
Even as the theatre group gears up to stage a play about love, we see plenty of love stories among the members.
Here, Ranjith shies away from the romantic part of love. Instead, through the characters, he shows us the more practical and realistic aspect of love and what it is today.
All the characters come from different castes, classes and regions. Apparently, it colours each of their perceptions about love.
Through Arjun, Pa Ranjith shows that perceptions can change with time, learning, and unlearning.
Dushara Vijayan has essayed her role so convincingly — not just as Rene but even the characters she has enacted in the plays. She fits the bill of Rene perfectly.
Given that the entire movie circles around her in a way, she does stand out.
Kalaiyarasan is brilliant and he comes alive in the role of Arjun. More performance-oriented roles should be offered to this talented actor.
Kalidas Jayaraman is a fine actor and plays the role of the jilted lover with aplomb.
Thank you for all the love!
Our @beemji and the team of #NatchathiramNagargiradhu being given the warmest of welcomes at Devi theatre.@vigsun @Manojjahson @yaazhifilms_ @tenmamakesmusic @kishorkumardop @EditorSelva @anthoruban @Jayaraguart @iamSandy_Off @STUNNER_SAM pic.twitter.com/G5haU59sUN
— Neelam Productions (@officialneelam) August 31, 2022
Pa Ranjith outdoes himself
Pa Ranjith’s Natchathiram Nagargiradhu is a departure from his previous films and he has blended various forms of storytelling in this film: Using stage play, real-life footage, documentary, etc.
The cinematography by Kishor Kuma is excellent and sometimes one gets the feeling of being a voyeur. That’s what made it more fascinating for me.
Editor RK Selva’s work in this movie has to be appreciated, as must the songs and background music by Tenma. These make Natchathiram Nagargiradhu extremely unique.
The film is experimental in many ways and there are some aspects one doesn’t agree with.
For instance, how can Arjun, who has grown up being homophobic, sexist and misogynistic, unlearn everything overnight and turn over a new leaf?
If societal mindset were that simple to change, wouldn’t we have achieved that change in society by now?
In a nutshell, Natchathiram Nagargiradhu does make one think, but it’s not a movie that the mass audience will relate to easily. And that, I think is the tragedy!