A plethora of pluses make Naan (U/A) watch-worthy. Vijay Antony’s acumen comes to the fore in his choice of a subject that’s strong and a character that’s stronger. Naan is his maiden effort as actor and 25 as composer. Jeeva Sankar, the cinematographer turned director, has a taut tale to tell and he tells it well. In our cinema, the protagonist may be good or bad, but he has to have a girl falling for him! Invariably, the worst criminal gets the most beautiful woman! But eschewing such frills, Sankar has stuck to a linear narration that doesn’t stray from its purpose. He has diligently worked on the nitty-gritty of the plot and every minute detail is neatly knotted up.
The psyche of a studious boy wronged by his own family, the mindset of the closed man he grows up to be, the dragnet of murder he’s pulled into and his intelligent handling of serious situations have been executed with care. Silent, stony, wary, perceptive — you don’t have to do much to show these facets of a character. And Vijay Antony scales with ease. But in the sequence where he looks at his bloody hands, sobs, is terrified by the sudden ringing of the phone and calms himself to handle the situation, he reveals his potential as an actor.
If at the end of it all you feel sorry for the messy crime the protagonist is involved in and admire the wit with which he tries to overcome odds, the plaudits go to Jeeva Sankar who makes it plausible and gripping.
His performance in Ananda Thandavam was tepid and terribly disappointing. But Siddharth bounces back to make an impact in a role that typifies the modern, rich and spoilt youth of today. Naan is a very different role for Rupa Manjari who was expected to go places after her bubbly part in the comedy, Thiru Thiru Thuru Thuru. It didn’t happen. In a serious role this time, she scores again. Anuya returns to play a small but significant part, and for Vibha, a debutante, Naan should mark a welcome beginning in Tamil. The other two actors, Vijay Victor and Shyam, the friend and the frightened foe of Siddharth, fill the bill. Also, the young boy (Vignesh) with his quiet demeanour and deadpan face lingers in your mind for long. In fact, the entire cast of Naan deserves compliments.
Screenplay is a notable aspect of Naan. Of course, the pace slackens slightly midway but is back on a fast track very soon. Yet it’s strange that two films that bear obvious similarities in the storyline have released in a matter of a couple of weeks of one another. Naan has situations that are very familiar to those who have watched Eppadi Manasukkul Vandhaai. Even as you wonder about the inspiration of both, Naan changes tack. Either way Sankar’s cleverness in treatment cannot be overlooked.
Obviously the music and lyrics departments have worked overtime for Naan. Particular mention has to be made of the RR. It can be rated among the best from composer Vijay Antony so far. Of course, the narration also lends itself to an engaging background score.
From composing to acting and from cinematography to direction, the shift in stance could not have been easy for Vijay Antony and Jeeva Sankar. But the tasks have been ably executed, and the two should turn up trumps!
Director: Jeeva Sankar
Cast: Vijay Antony, Siddharth, Rupa Manjari, Anuya
Storyline: Harrowing experiences try to submerge the hero in a sea of crime, but he will not give up …
Bottomline: Well done!