A shorter crisper version of the Nedunchalai would perhaps have been more entertaining, writes S Saraswathi.
Director Krishna’s much delayed film, Nedunchalai, was finally released under the banner of Udhayanidhi Stalin's Red Giant Movies.
His previous film Sillunu Oru Kaadhal featuring real life couple Suriya-Jyothika, which released in 2006 was highly publicised, and had an average run at the box office.
Nedunchalai is a dark, romantic thriller featuring Aari and Shivada Nair in the lead roles supported by Thambi Ramaiah, and Prashant Narayanan.
The film has music by C Sathya, cinematography by Rajavel Olhiveeran and editing by Kishore.
Nedunchalai (meaning ‘highway’) is set in the 1980s and deals with the lives and emotions of the people who depend on a highway for their livelihood. The film portrays all kinds of people whose lives are intertwined with the highway.
There are those who make an honest living like Manga (Shivada Nair), a bold and spunky Malayali girl, who runs a dhaba or roadside eatery on the highway with the help of Thambi Ramaiah.
There are also those like the protagonist Tarpai Murugan (Aari) and his bunch of friends who loot cargo trucks in the dead of the night on the remote stretches of the highway.
Murugan is a man with a tragic past; he is literally born in an accident on the highway that kills his parents.
He is brought up by an old man selling fruits to travellers along the highway. But after his death, Murugan, unfortunately falls into bad ways and grows up to be the most dreaded and notorious bandit of the highway.
His daring acts become legendary among the drivers who frequent these roads transporting goods.
In fact, the film is a flashback narrated by one of Murugan’s friends many years later on a long journey from Chennai to Delhi, as he reminisces about his fearless friend’s adventures.
There are several others in the story, like the middleman who helps Murugan dispose off the stolen goods, and a corrupt policeman, Masanimuthu (Prashant Narayanan), who makes life hell for Manga. He accuses her of being a call girl, serving customers on the pretext of running a dhaba.
Though the film starts on a promising note, it eventually turns out to be quite predictable with Manga desperately trying to reform Murugan, while his scandalous past continues to haunt him, robbing him of the opportunity to lead an honest life.
Shivada Nair as Manga has given a feisty performance. But Aari, despite having the rugged looks that suit the role, is not as impressive as the outlaw Murugan.
Thambi Ramaiah, as usual, is very funny and Prashant Narayanan too has performed well.
Cinematographer Rajavel deserves credit for the thrilling night time shots of the robbery along the highway in low-light conditions that keep you riveted to the screen.
Many of the scenes and dialogues are rather crude and vulgar and have no particular relevance to the film.
Sathya’s background score and songs, especially Injathea and Kadal Thand are engaging.
Nedunchalai deals with many human emotions - love, greed, lust, friendship and betrayal, liberally sprinkled with violence and action. But it ends up becoming overly long and tedious.
A shorter crisper version of the film would perhaps have been more entertaining.