Naachiyar – Atypicaly typical!
During the opening credits the camera pans across a vast area of trash and then slowly reveals greenery. Bala's movies usually have us invested in good natured characters and then have fate play spoilsport to ensure that there is atleast a little difficulty in having our immediate meal after the film. So the opening credits did give me hope that Bala had probably done something that he isn't used to doing i.e. start off on a grim note and then move to the brighter side.
Without wasting any time we get introduced to the primary characters – Naachiyar (Jyothika) and two teenagers (Ivana as Arasi and GV. Prakash as Kaatharavayan ). The film has us assume that the latter plays a teenager as Kaathavarayan is someone who does not actually know his own age. He and Arasi are in unbridled love but are facing the law for a reason that is the crux of the film . Revealing it might be a spoiler but I guess I am taking too much caution as you might already know this and even more through social media. Naachiyar takes it upon her to see what really transpired and delivers justice.
Naachiyar looks like a product from a sligtly mellowed down Bala. His stamp his of course visible throughout the film but this definely looks like a conscious decison to play a different game but within his rules. The humour early on is unmistakably the Bala type. Arasi and Kaathavarayan fall in love very quickly but Bala ensures that we buy into this development. Their caring nature is established early on and this very nature is what gets them together. G.V. Prakash is very good. How much ever you like Surya's character in Pithamagan or Vishal's in Avan Ivan there is always this sense that it is being overplayed to make it enjoyable. This isn't really that sort of a role and so a comparison is unfair. But G.V. Prakash comes across endearinly as the helpless teenager with a good heart. You never get the feel that someone is performing to prove a point. Ivana has that child like innocence written all over her face. It takes a while to warm up to Jyothika's performance but it all falls in place as the film progresses. But there is this constant lingering doubt if someone else would have been more apt.
I am not sure on where to place Naachiyar amongst Bala's films but it certainly seems his most balanced. His characters are usually black and white but here he does show glimpses that someone can be a little grey at times.There is this scene where Naachiyar beats up a man. Initially it is like we approve of what she is doing and with films like Visaranai still in mind we wonder if our response is correct. Then something happens and we understand that the man has been wronged. This scene ends without Naachiyar apologising. Naachiyar unleashes violence very easily on the helpless. There is this scene much later when she isn't able to do much with a powerful man despite knowing that he has committed a heinous crime. His subordinate immediately reminds her on how she might have reacted on someone much less influential. I am not sure many movies have ventured into this area of police highhandedness on the downtrodden, particularly when the protagonist is an honest police officer.
The narration is unfussy, pretty straightforward and engaging. Technically too it is similar. The editing is neat and to the point. The 100 minute runtime is the icing on the cake. We might not get all too emotional as in Bala's earlier films but this is a film that purposefully restrains from going overboard. The investigative angle is what I felt could have been atleast a little more ellaborative.We really do not know on how few things are deciphered. But again this cannot be a major complaint because that is not the film's motive.
Naachiyar is probably the Bala film that is closest to our mainstream sensibilities. It would be interesting to see where he goes from here.