Director S. Venky Baboo
Storyline Four friends set out from their village on a magical journey in search of a swamiji’s necklace
Bottom line Far from perfect, but an ambitious fi lm that kids might enjoy
As the first feature length 3D animation movie done entirely in Chennai, Inimey Nangathan has garnered a lot of attention. And the opening scene seems to live up to expectations — a beautiful image of sunlight filtering through the leaves of a tree in a forest. You then follow the movement of a flower falling from the tree and floating along a stream flowing below, accompanied by some lovely background music, and feel that, yes, animation in India has really turned a corner.
Unfortunately, the animation of the human characters is less effective. While a great deal of attention has been paid to detail (for example, the folds on the blanket of one of the characters are amazingly real), the human figures, with their caricatured faces and unnatural movements look more like bobble-head dolls than human beings.
A moralistic tale about the dangers of greed and wanting to get rich without doing anything, the storyline follows the adventures of four friends —Vichu, Vaithi, Varadhu and Govind — who (not very successfully) sing and tell stories in their village. They have one dream — to be as wealthy as Bill Gates without working at all. A wise old woman tells them about a swamiji who can make their dream come true. The swamiji sends the four off on a long search for his lost rudraksha malai. Of course, the men learn their lesson at the end of their journey (and it’s drummed home to the audience till they want to yell, ‘Yes, yes, I got it!’).
The greatest strength of the movie is the imaginative scenery — though violently coloured in parts, they’re generally excellent. The magical, mystical journey the men embark on is fun, including golden palaces and cows, and caves full of glittering diamonds. Action sequences, where characters tumble down holes and float as though they’re in space, use some neat visual effects that kids will enjoy. The music by Ilaiyaraja is peppy, especially the title track.
The greatest weakness of the movie is the four central characters. It’s hard to like or even empathise with these four greedy men who spend most of the film bickering raucously. While such characters work well in a Panchatantra tale teaching kids how not to be, it is difficult to enjoy a full-length film when there aren’t appealing central characters to root for. One also wonders why the writer-director S. Venky Baboo chose to make them dhoti-clad, tuft-wearing villagers — will kids really be able to relate to these characters?
Overall, however, this ambitious movie is a step in the right direction. With some interesting touches like the characters turning into a rock band briefly, and an imaginative non-mythological plotline, it tries to do a few different things and while it isn’t perfect, it succeeds in taking animation a step further in India.