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‘Natpe Thunai’ review: a smartly-packaged sports film

Hip Hop Aadhi in ‘Natpe Thunai’

Hip Hop Aadhi in ‘Natpe Thunai’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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‘Natpe Thunai’ starring Hip Hop Aadhi packs a punch, especially towards the climax

Spoilers ahead!

The interval block has become a crucial element in Tamil cinema. In most cases, it's written to set the stage for a hero versus villain clash. In Natpe Thunai, it announces the hero.

And, I mean “announce”. Till then, the film just goes through the regular motions of Tamil cinema – introducing Puducherry-based Prabhakaran (Aadhi), a happily-jobless youngster whose dream is to settle in France, getting him to joke around with friends, dance to a mindless kuthu song and, of course, fall in love seconds after seeing a girl. All this makes the interval block all the more crucial – to get us interested – and Natpe Thunai does that well. That entire sequence is set in a hockey ground, the bone of contention in the film. We’ve no idea about Aadhi’s hockey skills till that point in time, but when pushed, he blocks. He tackles, and grins as he passes. There are loads of slow motion shots, most of them lovingly focussing on either Aadhi or the hockey stick and ball. And at the end of it, when he scores a winner, the entire theatre – an army of youngsters – erupted in joy. It’s the kind of joy only popular live sports provides – and anyone who has been to Chepauk for a cricket game will vouch for that – and that a hockey match on the big screen matches that is super sweet.

Natpe Thunai
  • Genre: Sports Drama
  • Cast: Hip Hop Aadhi, Anagha, Karu Palaniappan, Harish Uthaman
  • Storyline: A hockey player who is away from the game has to take it up again

There’s more similar joys in the well-staged climax of Natpe Thunai, a sports film that packs a punch. We’ve seen similar storylines in the past; Chak De! and Lagaan, for instance. Director Parthiban Desingu’s Natpe Thunai borrows a few themes from those two, but liberally sprinkles elements of Tamil cinema over its core.

So, we get a hero who gets back to the game he once loved only because the girl he loves has an issue. We get a crooked politician (Karu Palaniappan gives a solid performance) who is clearly unabashed about his ways. We get a corporate company taking-over -land angle (yawn) and a caste angle as well. Natpe Thunai puts forth some valid points about the politics and business surrounding sports in India through a problem concerning a historic hockey ground.

The performances, led by Aadhi, might not exactly have the finesse of someone who’s passed out of acting school, but has a carefree and easygoing nature that is quite charming. There are some memorable characters – a juice seller who keeps telling stories and a youngster who acts all macho stand out. But Natpe Thunai suffers a bit in the second half when the tone suddenly turns all serious – the shift does not seem seamless at all. There are logical issues as well (how do an entire bunch of hockey fanatics not know about a former international player?) but the film redeems itself in the climax sports portions that look very authentic.

Natpe Thunai is nowhere close to Chak De! or Lagaan when it comes to star power or powerful performances, but the camaraderie between the main actors and the relatable script makes it worth it.

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 7:56:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/natpe-thunai-movie-review-a-smartly-packaged-sports-film/article26733981.ece

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