‘Naradan’ movie review: A stinging critique of voyeuristic journalism

It is much to Tovino Thomas’s credit that he is ready to take up characters that are not likeable, like he did in Kala

It is much to Tovino Thomas’s credit that he is ready to take up characters that are not likeable, like he did in Kala

Direction: Aashiq Abu
Cast: Tovino Thomas, Anna Ben, Sharafudheen, Indrans

When Sidney Lumet made Network more than four decades back, he used an over-the-top, satirical narrative to point fingers at visual media. It is a testimony to how much media standards have fallen, that some of the over-the-top elements in that movie have become normalised in television studios in latter years.

In Naradan, Aashiq Abu hardly ever employs satire. The script by Unni R. is as direct as it can get, drawing on recent happenings from the political and media landscape in the State as well as outside, to tell the compelling story of the rise of an unethical media anchor. When we first see Chandraprakash (Tovino Thomas), he is already the star anchor of a news channel, but other than hunger to stay ahead of the competition, he is not yet sullied by other vices.

But a drop in the ratings, following a breaking story from Pradeep John (Sharafudheen), the anchor of a smaller rival channel, becomes a spark that kindles the ugly side of Chandraprakash. The film follows his transformation to a rich, ruthless channel boss, who hobnobs with shady elements and would go to any extent to maintain his ratings, and to crush even the feeblest of voices that question him.

It is much to Tovino Thomas’s credit that he is ready to take up characters that are not likeable, like he did in Kala. Chandraprakash is even repulsive at many points. His hectoring style of anchoring, cutting off panelists midway and misinterpreting their words to serve his purpose, is reminiscent of many contemporary anchors. It is the transformation in Chandraprakash’s character which becomes one of the high points of the film. This all-round transformation is especially evident in how he puts in place a ‘subordinate’ who used to be his close friend not so long back.

Aashiq Abu uses Naradan to invert the power equations of the newsroom studio, to put on trial the style of journalism promoted by sections of the visual media in recent years. The script points at the inherent voyeurism, the moral judgements and the conservative mindsets of the self-anointed judges in newsrooms. Though many of the scenes are set around tiring news debates and voyeuristic reporting, it makes for engaging drama in the film. Some parts, especially that of a rapper confronting the anchor in a live video, seems to have been drawn from happenings in the national media, just like a part of the anchor’s character.

A good part of the hour leading up to the climax has been structured as a court-room drama, with some solid performances from Indrans, as the judge who is not easily swayed, and from Anna Ben, as a lawyer. Although the arguments justifying media gags in some cases can be misused by some elements, as has happened in recent years, the court arguments also raise valid questions on what constitutes public interest journalism. The two rap songs add to the general idea and spirit of the film.

Naradan is a stinging critique of the rot that has taken over at least a section of the visual media, which revolves almost completely around ratings.

Naradan is currently running in theatres

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Printable version | Mar 4, 2022 12:25:53 pm |