Navarasa movie review: Netflix offers a medley of bigs and failures, Arvind Swami stands out
The idea of exploring nine rasas through the format of an anthology makes Navarasa one of the most innovative attempts at filmmaking in Tamil cinema in recent years. However, when you start to dissect every rasa or emotion through the shorts, you realize that not all of them work.
While a few short films manage to translate the emotion into the story, the rest barely manage to make a dent. Also, it can be extremely exhausting watching more than five hours of short films at one time.
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One of the most anticipated short films, Guitar Kambi Mela Nindru, stars Suriya in the lead. Directed by Gautham Vasudev Menon, the short film explores the theme of love. It leaves you exhausted with its extremely cliché romantic setup. The story centers on a musician and how he gets inspired to improve himself at his job after meeting a girl. Suriya and Prayaga play the main characters and while they do their best to bring out the chemistry, it all feels artificial. While romance is his strong suit, Gautham Menon becomes repetitive with his writing, and it’s like he’s stuck in a loop and forced to do the same stories.
Karthick Naren’s short film, entitled Project Agni, explores the theme of wonder. This is one of the best shorts in the anthology and is considered Karthick’s best work to date. In just 30 minutes, it delivers a mind-blowing sci-fi thriller that packs a punch. From speaking of human civilization to extraterrestrial life and subconscious reality; the short leaves you in awe at the end. Arvind Swami and Prasanna keep you updated on their performance until the last minute.
Vasanth S Sai’s Payasam takes place against the backdrop of a Brahmin wedding. Based on the theme of disgust, it stars veteran actor Delhi Ganesh in the lead role while Rohini and Aditi Balan are seen in supporting roles. The short is about how a man’s jealousy drives him to do something that turns his own daughter off. It takes a very predictable route to get your point across.
Arvind Swami makes a solid directorial debut with Roudhram, which explores the theme of anger. The writing and directing make it the best short film in the anthology. It centers on the investigation of a young boy who knocked down a man with a hammer in a fit of rage. As the cops try to find the reason for his action, the story narrows down to tell what drove him to the limit. But the big surprise comes in the form of a final twist.
Rathindran Prasad’s short film Inmai about fear features Siddharth and Parvathy Thiruvothu coming together for a very interesting take on horror. It reverses the usual tropes associated with the horror genre to present a drama that delves deep into what fear really is to them.
Karthik Subbaraj’s short film on peace deals with the price of giving up fighting. It takes place against a backdrop of civil war between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan army. It focuses on a few LTTE soldiers in an outpost and their encounter with a young boy. The idea is laudable, but somehow the message isn’t translated effectively enough to make an impact. It features Bobby Simhaa and Gautham Menon in key roles.
Sarjun’s lack of courage is the weakest of all. Another story that explores the state of mind of a soldier who is given the responsibility of transporting a wounded naxalite to a hospital. The short asks if saving a life takes more courage than taking one? However, the intention behind the short film is never convincing enough. It features Atharvaa Murali and Kishore as the central characters.
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Bejoy Nambiar’s Edhiri, on compassion, stars Vijay Sethupathi and Revathy in the lead roles. Even though the central theme is compassion, the short film also touches on themes like guilt and forgiveness. Can a woman forgive the murderer of her husband? It’s a slow-burning drama that builds on solid performances from Vijay Sethupathi, who shines once again with his minimalist acting, and Revathy.
Priyadarshan’s short film on the emotion of laughter is a major disappointment. It features Yogi Babu, a popular comedian, leading the way, but the short is devoid of moments of laughter. It has a very interesting premise but struggles to conjure up laughs for the most part.
To throw: Suriya, Vijay Sethupathi, Delhi Ganesh, Rohini, Revathy, Prayaga Martin, Siddharth, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Arvind Swami, Prasanna, Rythvika, Atharvaa Murali and Yogi Babu
Directors: Arvind Swami, Bejoy Nambiar, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Karthik Subbaraj, Karthick Naren, Priyadarshan, Rathindran R Prasad, Sarjun and Vasanth S Sai