Tamil director Bala’s new film, Naachiyaar is a clear departure from his earlier films that were synonymous with tragedy.
It’s a solid film that bolsters its innately compelling narrative with standout performances by the three lead actors: Jyotika in the titular role of a no-nonsense police officer; G.V. Prakash as a poor fruit vendor Kaathu, who is framed in the rape of a minor; and newcomer Ivana as Arasi, a teenage domestic maid in love with Kaathu.
Arasi’s and Kaathu’s love story unfolds against the backdrop of a police investigation that leaves you smiling — a first with a Bala film.
Naachiyar, though pegged around the lovers, also dwells on the career of an upright and tough police officer, Naachiyar, who does not rest until she find’s justice for Arasi.
The love story of the two protagonists unfolds with a Rs10 note that Arasi owes Kaathu during an auto ride. Their subsequent meetings are told humorously as the director builds the relationship between the two. Soon enough, Arasi becomes pregnant.
Naachiyaar, a much dreaded police officer, has quite a reputation when it comes to handling culprits. She believes in tough tactics. But lurking inside this mother of two girls is a compassionate woman who begins to care for Arasi.
Unrelenting in her search for the man responsible for Arasi’s condition, Jyotika strides tall as Naachiyar, holding back no punches.
Music composer-turned-actor Prakash is the real surprise. The actor, who started his on-screen career as the jilted lover in Darling, is barely recognisable.
Under the direction by Bala, he transforms completely into the simpleton Kaathu. This role is far removed from his earlier romantic characters. Prakash raises the bar for himself with a breakout performance. He completely owns Kaathu.
Newcomer Ivana plays the perfect tango to Prakash. Pregnant with a child, her Arasi carries a playful streak and a maturity in which Kaathu finds compassion. They share a nice on-screen chemistry — the tenderness in their love is almost tangible.
Interwoven into this investigation are a few nice moments, like the wedding scenes and the humorous court scene where Kaathu is tried before being sent to a correction home.
The supporting cast deserves mention: producer-cum-actor Rockline Venkatesh plays Naachiyaar’s colleague; the young actors playing the juvenile criminals who bully Kaathu at the remand home show talent; and the actor playing Kaathu’s contractor is not easily forgotten.
Ilayaraja’s music elevates the story, while Easwaran’s frames are fascinating. This Bala film indeed wins with a lesson on love’s magnanimity.
Check it out!
Naachiyar is out in UAE cinemas.