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‘Naachiyaar’ review: Not your regular Bala film

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The movie is pretty devastating, even with its happy ending.

The opening credits of Bala’s Naachiyaar are unlike any other in recent Tamil cinema. As the names roll, we’re shown aerial footage of a landfill with heaps and heaps of garbage. With every passing second, we start feeling the sheer volume of trash and the expanse of this dump. And when we finally get to the end of this landfill, we’re ominously shown the skyline of a city, hinting at the reason behind the garbage we’ve just seen.

Given that this is a Bala film, and given the director’s propensity to tell stories of people who live on the fringes, you may be forgiven for thinking that Naachiyaar is about the trials and tribulations of a group of ragpickers. But that’s not what this is about, and Naachiyaar isn’t your regular Bala film.

Naachiyaar
  • Genre: Drama
  • Director: Bala
  • Cast: Jyothika, GV Prakash, Rockline Venkatesh, Ivana
  • Storyline: A police officer investigates the sexual assault of a minor

For starters, this is perhaps the only instance where one can use adjectives such as ‘hopeful’ and ‘optimistic’ to describe one of his films (can one really call Avan Ivan a Bala film?). Even the torture techniques in Naachiyaar are surprisingly watchable.

It’s about Kaathu (GV Prakash in his best role so far), a minor who has been accused of sexually assaulting Arasi (a promising newcomer named Ivana), another minor. And when Arasi gets pregnant, Naachiyaar (Jyothika) sets off to investigate.

From here, the film flips back and forth between this investigation and flashbacks to tell us the innocent love story between Kaathu and Arasi. Their story is ripe with humour, sensitivity and tenderness, reminiscent of Bala’s own Sethu. The two leads have excellent chemistry and it plays a huge part in making us care so much for their characters.

But the film is weakest when it’s a whodunit. This is where the film slows down and the characters that we see here are hardly developed to make for a compelling case.

That said, Naachiyaar is Bala taking two steps back from Tharai Thappattai, which had reached ‘torture porn’ proportions. Bala’s films usually feel like you’re being attacked by a sledgehammer for no fault of yours. Naachiyaar, though lightweight for Bala, is still pretty devastating, even with its happy ending.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 5:41:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/naachiyaar-review-not-your-regular-bala-film/article22776479.ece

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