It’s heartening to see definite genres that keep formula to a minimum emerging. ‘Naanayam’ (U/A) is the latest in the category. The plot, based on a bid to rob a bank, is more or less linear in narration and to the point. (The theme is Hollywood-like – though of course, you have frills viz., song sequences, inevitable in a desi film.)

Ravi (Prasanna) has dreams of setting up his own business. He plans to continue in his job as a bank’s security officer, till his loan gets sanctioned. But things go awry the moment Farid (Sibiraj) steps into the scene …

What begins as a game of cat and mouse has the hero and villain alternately gaining an upper hand at every turn. Unexpected twists make you sit bolt upright and the sagacious race of minds, is reasonably gripping. Yet, it should have been much more so. ‘Naanayam’ lacks the verve and raciness associated with such themes – the screenplay is the culprit.

A very thin line divides an understated performance from a stone-faced one. Prasanna, the protagonist, tends to meander into the latter. Hence you sometimes hear him parroting lines in a drab monotone. Being natural is welcome as long as the actor doesn’t go overboard in the process. All the same, looking well groomed and handsome Prasanna is a draw.

‘Naanayam’ could be the shortest of ‘sublime’ love tales you’ve seen on screen! The hero falls for the girl in an instant. In the next couple of meetings or so (including a song sequence) he’s willing to go to any length for her sake!

It is a comeback of sorts for Sibiraj, this time in an anti role of a calm and collected villain who doesn’t believe in unnecessary arm-twisting. It is commendable that nowhere in the film does Sibi remind you of his father Satyaraj! His placid approach to the part, which he peppers with proper intonation and expression, adds to the impact.

Correct casting can make a world of difference to a film. It appears that heroine Ramya just goes through the motions – her character has many layers and portraying them isn’t easy. The role which offers immense scope should have been handled better. Similarly, SPB doesn’t quite suit the role, and his reactions in the end border on melodrama, making Prasanna’s show a striking contrast. A lone figure in white, presumably, SPB’s wife, who is seen for a fleeting second, vanishes without a word! Where do the mistakes lie? Couldn’t editors Praveen and Srikanth have set right such discrepancies?

The bank premises, the state of the art locker system (forget the plausibility aspect) and the hero’s apartment say a lot about Vithesh’s art efficiency. The imperceptible CG and DI efforts too warrant mention.

James Vasanthan’s score is another aiding aspect of ‘Naanayam.’ The words of the ‘Ka Ka Ka’ number are proof of Kavivarman’s penning skill. The tune, the beats and the choreography, make it a foot-tapping piece, while the melodious ‘Naan Pogiraen’ transports you to the enchanting duet days of SPB and Chitra!

The premise isn’t new to Hollywood filmgoers – ‘Point Break’ ‘Ocean’s thirteen’ – you can go on and on. But in Tamil except for a few stray films, bank robbery as the mainstay of a story is rare. It’s obvious that director Shakti Rajan has worked hard to provide a refreshing fare. Surely he could have toiled a little more and got the pace right.

Keywords: NaanayamPrasannaSibiraj