Whenever Nanda Gopalan Kumaran is having an eccentric emotional outburst in the movie NGK, all I could see was a Selvaraghavan trying to escape from the constraints of a U certified commercial hero-centric film. On paper, this movie has all the essential ingredients required for a Selvaraghavan film filled with a lot of grays. But the execution tries to spoon-feed the audience way too much resulting in a movie that looks like what if Selvaraghavan directed Muthalvan.
Nanda Gopalan Kumaran aka NGK is this young man who has completed MTech and is now doing organic farming along with a group of similar educated young men. At one point that group gets threatened by those who did the business of chemical fertilizers and a helpless NGK slowly realized the power of people in politics as they helped him in solving that particular situation. Kumaran’s decision to pursue a career in politics, how he manages to do that in a short span of time and the drama that unfolds along with that is what NGK from Selvaraghavan showing the audience.
Using broad strokes in narratives that depict a bigger timeline is not a bad thing to do and we have seen Selvaraghavan use that in his iconic Pudhupettai. The thing with NGK is that it is happening in a smaller span of time and when the story simply skips through major events in the rise of an aspiring political leader, the audience misses the depth of the character. At a time when web series is a thing among content seekers, I feel Selvaraghavan should have gone for a totally uncompromised web series using this concept rather than a movie. I am saying this because there are way too many events happening in the movie and squeezing all of them into a two and a half hour long film takes out the charm of character building considerably.
For the actor in Suriya, NGK is indeed a terrific platform to show his caliber. We get to see him in his usual charmer attitude, the anger is there, the emotional breakdowns are there and there is even one transformation scene that sort of certifies his ability to modulate the voice. Sai Pallavi was also terrific as that equal partner who is obsessed with her husband in a very peculiar way. There is one sequence in the movie where Kumaran is confronted by his wife and these two actors were fabulous in those scenes. And that is perhaps the only little window in this film where we get to experience that Selvaraghavan style of scene building. Rakul Preet Singh is okay as the PR head. Ponvannan and Devaraj play the antagonists here. And the cast includes names like Bala Singh, Nizhalgal Ravi, Ilavarasu, Uma Padmanabhan, etc.
What Selvaraghavan tries to pitch here is the concept of an ideal/practical alternative to the current political picture. We have seen that in the ideologies of many filmmakers that cater to that anger of the people against this corrupt system. While watching the film, what I felt was that Selvaraghavan actually wanted to create a protagonist with many shades of gray. But that humanizing flaws in the character of NGK is very less. A Kokki Kumar was an amalgamation of a lot of errors and by the end of Pudhupettai, we sort of look at that whole movie through each character. NGK just doesn’t have that quality and as I mentioned earlier, the film is skipping through events way too quickly. That hospital fight and the one song with Rakul Preet felt like a burden to the movie that was already on the duller side. Even in the visualization of that song one could sense a kind of hastiness in aspects like cinematography and dance choreography. Sivakumar Vijayan manages to capture the scale of the concept impressively while the edits failed to find the emotional core of scenes. The music was fine on an album level, but for the movie, it isn’t really doing any great service.
A filmmaker like Selvaraghavan, who explores raw characters collaborating with a hero like Suriya who has an image to maintain certainly affects a concept like NGK. The sarcastic digs at current politics and the idea of a flawed leader, who is at least better than the rest, deserved a better style of making. Forcefully added songs and action sequences that lack conviction are not the way to achieve it.
The sarcastic digs at current politics and the idea of a flawed leader, who is at least better than the rest, deserved a better style of making.