Director Bala kicked off his career with a stupendous debut with Sethu, which saw lead star Vikram come within an inch of a National Award for best actor.
But that kind of thing creates a burden of expectation -- which could be one reason why Nandha, his second outing, gets well under a perfect 10 on the score sheet.
When this film was in the making, a few whispers did the rounds that Bala's film was pretty close in terms of content to the Kamal Hassan starrer Aalavandhaan (Abhay in Hindi).
That rumour proves, now, to have had its genesis in the fact that the lead star in Nandha sports a crop so close as to be borderline bald and, like Kamal Hassan's character, kills off a parent while still a young boy.
The storyline has the young Nandha killing his father in the confusion that follows when his mother discovers her husband's philandering. Nandha is packed off to juvenile prison, leaving behind his deaf and dumb mother and baby sister.
When Nandha exits prison, it is as a young man (Surya) who, first crack out of the box, discovers that his mother wants to have nothing to do with him.
Crushed, he begins to make a life for himself and manages to find admission in the local college. Against his will, he gets embroiled in a fight with the college bully and is seen by the local don (Rajkiran). The don takes the youngster under his wing.
The story moves into overdrive when a boatload of refugees from Sri Lanka arrive in Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu, where the story
is based. Rajkiran helps the refugees find shelter and in time, Kalyani, one of the girls in the group (Laila) falls in love with Surya. The don arranges their marriage.
Rajkiran dies following certain complications, Nandha goes berserk, and all this paves the way for a denouncement that is certainly unusual -- though the bleak climax is certainly not something audiences en masse would like.
The performances -- Surya in particular, with very good backup from Rajkiran -- are good; but then, even this early in his career Bala is already getting a name as a director who can extract good performances. He also seems to have a penchant for creating bleak, somber canvasses -- and Yuvan Shankar Raja's music matches it perfectly.
The screenplay is smooth and incident-driven. In the final analysis, it is the climax that may be the main reason why the audience does not lap up this film.
Cast: Surya, Rajkiran, Laila, Rajshree.
Music: Yuvanshankar Raja