Sunday, January 17, 2010
A word on NADODIGAL (Tamil; 2009)
I recently saw Nadodigal, and after all the hype, was quite disappointed. The film is quite well-made in terms of ambience, but uneasily straddles the line between old-school masala and "new" tamil cinema -- and ends up with neither the energy and enthusiasm of the former, nor the rawness and "street cred" of the latter (not to mention that the film's protagonists, chief among them Sasikumar, are not well adapted as far as the masala-end is concerned.
What I did appreciate about the film -- which centers on a band of friends who help a couple elope in the face of fierce parental opposition -- was that this was the one film where the "heroes" were the characters who are peripheral in most love stories: the friends, siblings etc. who help the lovers run away from oppressive parents. Nor is any of this costless: in the typical potboiler, one never sees the consequences, be it the violence or the heartache, that accompanies such filmi romances. Nadodigal certainly does not suffer from that problem, but goes too far, draining truth in yielding to the temptation to be maudlin (not to mention that the film's (un-ironic) representation of the politics of friendship, the violence that such love can itself entail, is highly disturbing; sure, other Tamil films might suffer from the same worldview, but the stakes are higher on the supposedly "realistic" terrain of the "new" Tamil cinema, and there is no escapist hatch one can resort to). I only wish director Samuthikarani had followed his impulse -- to do justice to the marginal -- through to the end, instead of trying to make a Bigtime movie out of it...