The dominance of crime-thrillers in the south regional language cinema continues with Naduvan (meaning neutral/man in the middle). As a betrayal and revenge drama based on an extramarital affair, the film’s basic structure had all the elements of becoming an engaging thriller. Sadly, the writing and execution don’t let it be the same, with an overstuffed second half leading to a messy climax.
Naduvan begins with a philosophical monologue about life, giving an artificial opening to the film. The presentation raises doubts, but they don’t stay for long as a few likeable characters successfully keep you involved for the next few minutes. However, nothing substantial happens post the relevant introductions, and the writing takes too much time to come to its first surprising twist and a shocking accident.
The sudden revelations still work, and one expects something explosive coming ahead, focusing on the young village boy, Guru (Aruvi Bala), sent to work in the town. Being the most relatable and realistic character of the script, the film ideally should have been devised around him with the betrayal seen and narrated through his eyes. But taking a completely different path (with many unrequired songs), the script adds another subplot all of a sudden, that ruins the entire build-up, taking the focus away from the core subject.
As a result, post a decent and fairly engaging first half, the narration fails to deliver or maintain the momentum in the second, resulting in a derailed film. The forcibly added parallel plotline of murder and cover-up falls flat, adding nothing important. Moreover, a strange and casually written climax, hurriedly settling the scores, further does the damage, ending it on a strictly average note.
Designed as an ambitious film, Naduvan also doesn’t work as we don’t get to see any loving chemistry between the key characters. Particularly the female lead (Aparna Vinod) makes no contribution with her ‘always in make-up look’, and hence the betrayal doesn’t have any emotional impact. The film also has a few bizarre sequences, like the one related to the forgotten file and the kid’s road accident. Besides, the performances remain average, with only Aruvi leaving an impact as the young villager.
On the whole, with pleasing cinematography showcasing the locales of Kodaikanal, Naduvan could have been a fine crime-thriller narrating its story of betrayal in a distinctive style. Written and directed by debutant Sharran Kumar, the film has its moments, but it isn’t a focused one, unnecessarily deviating from its potential plot.
Title: Naduvan (Tamil)
Director: Sharran Kumar
Cast: Bharath, Aparna Vinod, Gokul Anand, Aruvi Bala
Rating: 2 stars
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