Although it’s excessively lengthy, it’s, therefore, Pa.Ranjith’s magnum opus of his ideology.
Director: Pa Ranjith
Cast: Arjun Prabhakaran, Damu, Dushara Vijayan, Gnanaprasad, Hari Krishnan, Kalaiyarasan, Kalidas Jayaram
Natchathiram Nagargirathu is a romantic musical drama film written and directed by Pa. Ranjith. The film is produced by Yaazhi Films and Neelam Productions.
Easily the “smartest” film Ranjith has ever made. All of the elements come together to create something new, from the idea to the treatment to the script to the juxtaposition of personalities to the role plays, and yet it still manages to wear Ranjith’s symbol. Although they were more subtle and less overtly forceful than normal, Ranjith’s symbolisms, ideas, convictions, and judgmental attitudes all came through in his many proposals. The early part of the game was a cakewalk, but the inevitable downpour in the second half fitted the mood well. Ranjith is really good at this kind of game.
“The characters represent the society”, He has written characters that represent various people in the society and when they converse we can find ourselves in any one of them at various points in various characters we can relate to every character at some point which is why I said the characters represent the society. Pa Ranjith’s Natchathiram Nagargirathu opens up with lovers in bed having a convo about their relationship. (Dushara Vijayan) Rene and (Kalidas Jayaram) Iniyan argue passionately about the merits of Ilaiyaraaja’s music. Iniyan, a Nina Simone lover, is contemptuous of the maestro, while Rene claims that Ilaiyaraaja is on par with the American singer and activist. Their divergent personalities inform their political opinions and desired stances. When Rene begins singing “En Vaanile” from the film Johnny, which deals with mimicking an identity problem and a lady living a stifling existence behind bars, Iniyan becomes “ignited” and begs her to stop singing as she is on a character tract in the whole film as she discusses darkness called caste that made her flee all throughout life but also pushed her to be courageous and outspoken. “That’s who I am in the world,” she adds.
The opening half-hour of Ranjith’s prior film, Sarpatta Parambarai, was dragged out in an attempt to set up the universe. However, this film also takes a little bit of a while to get to the point when things start to become exciting. Natchathiram Nagargiradhu is just starting here, NOW! The mentor of a movement theatre troupe, Subeer (Regin Rose), has an idea for a piece about love. They get into an intense controversy about love and all the many aspects of it. When it comes to love, how many distinct flavors are there? Within-the caste, Interfaith, Homosexual romance? Feelings that aren’t returned? So these are the main points of NN.
The purpose of this conversation is to focus on Arjun in particular. Self-realization scenes in movies are nothing new, but when Kalaiyarasan’s character, Arjun, has his epiphany, the audience connects with him and feels his transformation as if they were in the same situation. This, I believe, is the real intention of director Ranjith: to inspire viewers to make their own changes, even if they don’t come quickly. Ranjith shows that repressed groups may rise to power in other contexts by creating an inclusive film industry in which people of all genders, sexual orientations, and political persuasions have a say. This is made clear by the moment in which a character tries to place responsibility on an upper (caste) identity that is afterwards silenced. Also, the LGBT character Dayana (Sumeeth Borana) becomes agitated. As being this, Dayana is still a marginalized minority who risks persecution from the majority. However, this does not seem to diminish the benefits associated with his caste. It is because of this that hypocritical ideas and biases are called into question by the film. A character, for instance, dismisses romantic relationships based on physical attractiveness as ” gaaji” (lust). But then the same individual requests a photo from a possible partner after she mentions that she just showered. A good example is when Shekar (Charles Vinoth) states, “Love has no connection to age.”
The film is about a lot more than the relationship between Iniyan and Rene. The story revolves around the members of an organization’s theatre troupe. What began as a “love” tale for them winds up being only one part of a much bigger whole. Ranjith has made a brilliant move here. The stage serves as a metaphor for society as a whole since it is a place where individuals of many different races and classes may come together and form a cohesive whole. As a result, the flaws and political awareness of the characters are crucial to the success of this passion project. Natchathiram Nagargirathu’s central idea is hammered home by the film’s treatment of its characters as interchangeable parts: as one of a character in the film will say that “The universe is so large that we are just thugal (particles)”.
So all this went up smoothly and at one stage, the group got struck as they could not mention any names of caste on their play. So they decided to name them on a metaphorical side as kaatu poonai (jungle cat) and naatu poonai (the pet cat). Until a stray cat enters the picture, we may assume the play is about these two factions (Shabeer Kallarakkal in a cameo). One may argue that a cat could not kill a tiger even if it tried. It’s so unlikely that it’s not even worth trying. Now imagine a group of a hundred felines forming a resistance. That many? Seems feasible, wouldn’t you say?
If Arjun crosses a line with Rene, she is prepared to give him another opportunity since she is considered the moral compass of this film. She insists that “political correctness cannot be achieved overnight”. But every other thing in the film went well until some scene with Rene’s character was felt does she over went up with the scenes with Arjun? As she takes on a walk with Arjun and gets space to know him, she makes fun of Arjun here and there, which takes away the meaning of the whole film.
Natchathiram Nagargirathu is now streaming on NETFLIX