After a hiatus of 8 years, director Krishan returns with a marginally predictable Nedunchalai. A heartless ruffian who smuggles for a livelihood, the hero who turns into a savior for the heroine, a criminal cop who lusts for the heroine, the heroine who comes into the hero’s life and transforms him overnight. We have seen it all. But what is new is the zeal the characters bring to the film, and a few sequences that ooze suspense.
The premise is a familiar one: Set in the 1980’s, the story revolves around Tarapai Muruga, a terrifying robber, who deviously helps smugglers get their way. A newly-appointed despotic cop lusts his eyes on Manga, a local dhaba owner, and Murga prevents things from getting any worse. Thus, begins the revenge tale between the two.
Taking a break from his earlier realistic romantic-comedy he had success with, Krishna tries to render a rustic and dark tale. Over the years we have seen several revenge tales, several stories where the heroine pacifies the hero to shed the image of a bad guy and reform with pride. A flashback within a flashback. But the twist in the tale is the power each of these characters portray. The scene where Murga ventures to smuggle sandalwood which keep you hooked. The director has also taken sharp note of the elements reminiscent in the 1980’s: MGR’s death and The radio advertisements. A highly risky robbery that Murga cleverly plans keeps you at the edge-of-your-seat.
The plot takes a shift after a while, it makes you ponder as to what the exactly the maker is trying to convey. Scenes where inspector Masanam lusts for the heroine, the skimpily-clad lady in the item number, makes you squirm with discomfort. Mainly because they are repetitive. Just when you think the heroine might turn to be a victim, she hits back, condemns and shames him in full glory. But certain elements will confuse you, like Masanam’s one-on-one with Murga, like the cop rebounded easily from the insult and decided to take on the hero, over here the plot seems to be a little redundant. If Murga’s employer seemed to care so much about him, why didn’t Murga’s employer battle it out with the inspector earlier, when he had the chance? This only made the plot seem deliberately clichéd. The dialogues give you a feeling of déjà vu, "Unkuda 100 varusham valanom da’’, the director has used the same dialogue which he used in his debut movie Sillunu oru Kadhal.
Cinematography by Rajavel deserves a mention. Landscapes have been shot beautifully, the film is textured sharply and authentically especially in the thrill sequence. It is complimented by neat editing by D.I Kishore. The usage of old autos, tall glass bottles which stand out as credits to the art director Santhanam. Aari, in only his second film is skillful and alluring. It looks like the young actor has done a lot of hardwork for the role, but it seems effortless on screen. That is probably because he has lived his role. His quick transformation as the insensitive goon to a guy who’s hopelessly in love catches your attention. Don’t we just love it when metamorphosis takes place? Swetha Nair is good in her role. She strides with confidence. No comparisons here but she reminds you of Asin. But the actor who will leave you in splits is undoubtedly the National award-winning actor, Salim Kumar. He brings out quite a few giggles, especially with his body language and a distinct accent. He deceives you as the baddie and draws you attention as the likeable landlord and makes his character likeable. It looks like the Malayali actor is here to stay.
Even though the journey is hurdled with predictable elements its narrative will keep you engaged. Had a story been a little more fresh, the highway journey could’ve been an enjoyable one. Take the journey for the thrilling-yet-bumpy ride on the highway.