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It is 1:25 a,m on a Sunday morning and I am wide awake in my bed. I just saw a movie for the umpteenth time and I feel affected by it. I just saw Nayagan. There are scenes in the movie that can keep you up at night and I tip my hat to Manirathnam for writing a tight script and to Kamal for translating Velu Naicker to Celluloid. I almost know every scene by rote but I watched the movie expectantly just as I did the first time. My observation this time was how each death to a family member changes the complexion of the protoganist’s life. He flees the scene after the first death [ biological dad], announces himself on the scence after the second death [death of the muslim dad] , reinforces his position after the third [ death of his wife] and loses himself after the fourth. [ death of his son]

Apart from Kamal who has just raised the bar and in my opinion he is better than Brando or Pacino, there are two other very powerful characters in this movie played by veterans Janagaraj and Delhi Ganesh – both of them known otherwise for their performance in comic roles. The scene before last when Kamal is about to be produced in court and Janagaraj assures him that nothing will happen to him is just a marvellous piece of work bringing out both hope and apprehension. The scene never fails to bring a tear to my eyes. Janagraj is usually criticized for being loud but in this movie, he has played his part to perfection and I have often wondered whether I would ever be that fortunate to have friend like him till death.

I think one of the strengths of the movie is that it touches the depth of human relationships through just everyday happenings. A boy looking out for his father, a man looking out for his wife, kids and friends, a daughter who loves her dad even if he is a gangster are all norms of life and the ones which need not be eloborated through songs and this is exactly something that Manirathnam movies has understood and somehow some of the other directors have not.

Each time I have seen it, I have seen it from entirely different
perspective. This time I was surprised that Mani had raised the
subject of the slums being razed for infrastructure development in such
a subtle yet “in your face” manner. Although I don’t agree with
Naicker’s means of tackling the issue by force, I can totally identify
with the frustration and helplessness. The scene where he exhorts the doctor to treat the sick poor child is a classic and it truly reflects the deep chasm in the availability of health care between the rich and the por.

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Written by Sudarshan Suresh

February 25, 2007 at 10:04 am

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