Navarasa Review | Tamil Movie | Netflix 2021 |

Navarasa Review | Tamil Movie | Netflix 2021 | Mani Ratnam | Suriya | Gautam Vasudev Menon |

Hello and welcome to HalloFly. In this article I am going to be talking about Navarasa, an anthology of nine films based on the nine rasas and it’s been produced by Mani Ratham and Jayendra Panchapakesan.  It’s an effort to help the daily wage workers who’ve been hit by the pandemic. The artists and the technicians worked without remuneration. So there’s no question about the merit of the project itself. But now let’s look at the merit of the individual films in the order presented by Netflix.

Bhajan Nabiya’s Edhiri comes first. It has Prakash Raj Vijay Satyapathi and Revati who’s simply spectacular. Now all acting is a combination of the director’s inputs and the actor’s instincts but it’s finally the actor who puts it all in front of the camera and there are two instances of acting that Revati does that I’m going to be remembering for a long time. One is when she goes into room and sees something really terrible. We are not shown immediately what it is but she retreats she doesn’t scream or do anything like that you know. She just retreats in a kind of a horrified silence and she that scene is just amazing. Another scene that I’m going to remember for a long time again for acting is when there’s a tragedy that’s happened and she doesn’t cry. She doesn’t do anything. Her face is absolutely still but on every inch of her face you see a sense of so many feelings that we come to know about later. In the film about how she could have done something better or you know, how this tragedy has ended everything in her life that’s all that happening and she just shows it with this. Almost still life like expression on her face. She’s simply magnificent.

The film however is less. So it plays like something like an interior monologue from a destroyer ski novel. It’s certainly interesting in concept and I love brevity’s big speech at the end which is a series of what-ifs. What if this happened what if that had happened but the film is quite wordy and doesn’t have the power that the premise suggests and you see in this film a lot of qualities that you will see in quite. A few films in this anthology some great craft some terrific performances but also an overall sense of genericness. Also many of the films make you want to rethink the value of background score and songs in our films. Especially when there isn’t a real purpose for them do.

We really need to emphasize the sadness on someone’s face with two lines of a sad song doesn’t the acting like suffice isn’t that enough priyadarshan summer of 92 is especially guilty of this. There is a non-stop score practically like that in a cartoon now in this film yogi babu plays a yogi babu like character. Somebody who’s come from a modest background become a big comedy star and now he’s back at his old school to deliver a speech. Now he keeps recalling incidents from the past and there’s already been there done that kind of feel to the comedy here. This is the hashiraza and the one time I laughed out loud in the whole anthology was actually in the next film not this film.

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But the next one where the prasanna character tells the arvin swamy character. Well now I’ll finally have that whiskey. Now this film is directed by karthik naren and its called project agni and it’s a very very curious creature. It’s overtly derivative of Hollywood and the director himself makes no bones about it. He doesn’t want to hide it because he name drops both nolan and stanley Kubrick. He also does a hat trick to Indian myths by naming a couple vishnu and Lakshmi. Now karthik naren does something that’s really difficult to find in a films he gets the mix of tamarind English just right in the dialogue and the writing is solid and it builds. Its sci-fi universe really well without making it feel like spoon feeding. There are well-timed explanations that keep us in the loop but we never feel that somebody’s patronizing us the point is that we feel as mind-fucked as the prasanna character and yet there is no wow factor by the end which feels like a rather cheap twist but advent swami is simply superb. Here his pauses his gestures everything is just right uh. They say that some people become better actors as they grow older and as they get more life experience. If that’s true then he is proof.

Now the next film is by vasan sai and it’s one of the best films in the anthology. It is called payasam and it is based on a t jhana kiraman story. Now wasan’s trajectory has been one of the strangest in Tamil cinema. Usually directors start out really strong and then kind of seem to lose it as they go along. You know they kind of seem to lose their craft. Their sense of storytelling. As they go along but in wasan’s case it’s a bit of the reverse because it’s early films where pleasant nice middle class middle brow films. They were more about the writing the performances. You wouldn’t exactly call it pure cinema. You didn’t go and see it for the staging and things like that but ever since he shifted to what we might call parallel cinema with the films like shivering new menu silipengalum.

He has become a superb craftsman. Now that film two was based on stories by authors actually three major authors Ashoka Mithran Jaimohan and other one but the end product was so much more in biosam vasanth tells a very simple story with the brilliant contributions of his team. The editor sanga tamiran the cinematographer satyan suryan and the composer justin prabhakaran who’s one of the few composers in this anthology. Who goes with the flow of the film and does exactly what the film needs rather than trying to impose his own signature on the music and trying to create like a random kind of background music.

Now the setting is a tamra wedding in kumbakonam in 1965 and the narrative is driven by the feelings felt by the character felt by delhi ganesh. Now vasun does two things simultaneously. On the one hand he gives us the emotions felt by the delhi ganesh character he keeps escalating that and on the other hand he keeps showing us the preparations around the wedding. The way he does this is terrific and when the story ends you get that wonderful feeling that wonderful snap you get when a good short story ends the next film is bakarthik subraj who totally atones for the excesses of jagamethandiram.

Now this is his first full-fledged elim film and it is filled with his trademark craft his brilliant craft for example. There are the single takes. There is a simple 180 degree camera move that establishes two different geographies but in the same location the story starts Gautha Menon Sanant and bobby simha and what starts out as casual banter between them slowly escalates into a tense mission. At the end we get a message but after that we also get a brilliant subversion of the message like the Vasant movie the simplicity. Here is what really makes the movie work because when you combine the simplicity of the story with the complexity of the craft and the telling and the idea behind it. Then you get this thing that just works the end effect is really powerful and then we get the best film of the anthology by a newbie director named arwen swami. Oh my god in every possible sense this film just blew my mind santosh shivan is back in full form. The flow of the story the craft the performances by ritika and sriram everything fits together phenomenally well and I have to give a special mention to the dialogues and the staging my favorite shot is a sudden extreme close-up that that kind of emphasizes the suddenness of our realization of who a character really is there’s so much depth and density in the story about anger and it plays tricks with you.

For example whose anger is it really the easily externalized anger of one character or the slowly simmering and internalized anger of another character also the timelines. What timelines are we in whether it’s the major misdirection or the minor touches like a line equating women with gold. Everything is beautifully done again like in the kartik subraj movie. We get a message but it is camouflaged in the form of a school speech and it is totally subverted. At the end this is brilliant stuff and then we get the film by prasad which starts siddharth and parvati and we are back to the flavor of the initial films in the anthology. There’s some great craft good performances but there’s also an overall sense of genericness. The power in the story about a woman who meets a mysterious man doesn’t quite translate into a powerful film.

The same thing could be said about sergeant’s film which starts atarva and Kishore. There is a wonderful ending where there is a wonderful sense of incompleteness a question mark hanging over whatever happens but the rest of the film which is mostly a philosophical conversation between an sdf officer and an axel doesn’t quite build up to that powerful ending. Again instead of sharp and specific emotions we are left with a sense of genericness.

Finally we get to the most high profile film of the anthology starring surya and priyaga rose martin and directed by gautam menon, Guitar Kambi Mele Nindru . The film is a mixed bag but the conceit is superb the storyline subverts the traditional arc of a romantic movie. Where you see the beginning middle and end of a relationship I won’t tell you how but what gautam does is just right for a short film but as great as this concept is the film is at least 15 minutes too long and there are portions that feel in the middle. Especially there are portions that feel very repetitive and there is a song in a nightclub kind of situation. Uh it feels like it could have totally been axed and we would have lost nothing at all. In the movie another song uses the prelude from the ninja korea number from agdenashitram and I think what gautam is also doing here is doing a bit of a hat tip to the manidata romance from the late 80s but after a point the cutest in the dialogues begins to feel a little off and you feel that the same flavor would have worked had the film been shorter had the duration been shorter but I love the last stretch where gotham does this experimental thing by telling the story almost entirely through song and I just did not see that end coming prayaga rose martin has an interesting vibe to use a word from the film and she plays someone who’s a little too sure of herself a little too confident and she vibes very well with surya who’s in good form. The role is not exactly a stretch for the actor but he really pulls it off but the real heroes of the film are the editor anthony and especially pc shiram who finally seems to have found his vibe with gautama menon. After their rather generic last outing in that episode the colors pop and the framing with plenty of close-ups and really really going into the faces of the people is exquisite this man. He’s truly a legend and I really hope gautam gets to make a full-length feature film with sriram because these really seem to have kind of struck this card and it’s going to be really interesting to see what they do together. So that’s it for Navarasa Review.

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