Critic - No.151
Director: Bala
Casts: Jyothika, G.V.Prakash, Ivana
Language: Tamil
Music: Ilayaraja
Genre: Crime / Drama

A harsh police officer Naachiyaar (Jyothika) investigates a minor’s rape case that progressively unveils deeper revelations than expected.

After making waves with his debut film ‘Sethu’ in the year 1999, director Bala carved a name for himself as one of the most darkest film maker in Indian cinema. Even a comedy film like ‘Avan Ivan (2010)’ or a musical film like ‘Thaara Thappatai (2016)’, Bala treats his stories with a gruesome, gory tragedy. However, ‘Naachiyaar’ will be something that breaks the stereotype and fear we have for his films. 

Starting with a long take Arial shot over a pile of rubbish, Bala starts his metaphorical commentary on the polluted society that is driven by materialistic objectives. This stand further develops as the film digs deeper on the minor girl’s pregnancy case. Unlike other Bala’s film, the characters in Naachiyaar is more straight forward and defined. None of the characters look contrived like the director’s previous films where he packs barbarically merciless characters that are one dimensionally mean. 

Naachiyaar can be strict and foul mouthed to the victims and some colleagues to show her authority and love for justice. But when she comes home, she is an ordinary home maker who even gets shouted at by her daughter for cancelling plans on her due to her police duties. This familial peek of her character, makes us relate with her anger, decisions and the sympathy she shows towards the 17 year old girl. 

The film is not told in a linear way and jumps back and forth introducing few characters that adds on to the mystery of the case. Bala doesn’t really focus too much on the investigation or the clues. Instead, he creates interesting situations and corrupted characters that leads us to a powerful, thought provoking climax. That said, we do catch a few glimpses through his usual satire of cops and political authorities.

The characters in the film are real and grounded without any exaggeration that Bala is prone to in his films (except Naachiyaar’s daughter and husband). In short, this film might be the closest that Bala has tapped on the sensibilities of the mainstream audience circle, with relatable characters.

However, the romance track of the film even though looks genuine, could have been treated with more depth that would have elevated the entire emotional value of the film. The running time of the film is the biggest plus making this thriller crisp and sharp. However, predictability is another issue in this crime drama but Bala compensates by the positive third act. But with a more elaborate mystery, the film could have been more engaging without the half-baked feeling.

Jyothika shines at many parts holding the guts of the titular character and delivers a controlled, matured performance. ‘Naachiyaar’ is definitely G.V.Prakash’s best role in his career thus far. Be it his first clash with Ivana or the climax monologue, he displays the quality of a fine actor. Debutant Ivana looks apt in the role and gives a memorable performance as well. Producer Rockline Venkatesh debuts as an actor in an interesting role of a senior police officer who has given up realizing that the corrupted systems can’t be eradicated. 

Visuals wise, ‘Naachiyar’ looks more polished and modern than Bala’s previous works (except Paradesi) that are shot heavily in warm colour tones and hand-held camera movement. We can’t really wait to see Bala’s ‘Arjun Reddy’ remake ‘Varma’. No doubt that this film maker is taking a healthy deviation. Ilayaraja’s score passes muster while the one song sounds totally forgettable. 

With a straight forward yet powerful plot, ‘Naachiyaar’ is a thought provoking investigative thriller that will go down as the most accessible film of the acclaimed director, Bala. 



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