Nandalala - Movie Review
Starring: Mysskin , Snigdha Alolkar and Ashwath Ram
Direction: Mysskin
Music: Maestro Ilayaraja
Production: Ayngaran International in association with G V Films

Nandhalala - Mindblowing & Marvellous 

After languishing in the cans for more than a year and a half, waiting to meet its destiny, Mysskin ’s Nandalala is finally ready to grace the big screen.

Simplicity is the most complex of all methods – something put beautifully by Leonardo Da Vinci
when he said ‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’. Talk as we may about big budgets, great technology, racy scripts and all the whatnots of modern cinema, a movie comes along every now and then, laying threadbare all that is extraneous about cinema; presenting to us the art in its purest form. Yes, that is what Nandalala is all about – ‘pure cinema’.

The film is about Bhaskar Mani (Mysskin ) an adult who has spent the best part of his life in a mental asylum and Akhilesh (Ashwath Ram), a schoolboy. Both of them have one thing in common; separated from their mothers at a very early age. Both yearn to meet their mother; though for completely different reasons. One just wants to let her know how much he misses her and the other wants to know why he was forsaken by his mother. Destiny binds them together and they begin a journey, holding on to each other, searching for their mothers. As the saying goes, ‘Success is a journey, not a destination’. The journey taken by Bhaskar Mani and Akhilesh is not so much about where they end up, but about what they go through, what they encounter and what they learn. They start off with the hope that the destination may change their lives, may give an outlet to long pent up emotions; but it is the journey that transforms them. One can only imagine the plight and helplessness of a man from a mental asylum and a schoolboy as they walk around without knowing the harshness and cunning of the world around them. In the process they are battered and bruised, but transformed. And, it is not only they who are transformed. Along the way, their innocence and affection changes others too. They make friends; not the backslapping kind; but ones who are able to understand and share their pain. And in the end they emerge better, not more street smart or cunning or worldly, but as people who have come to terms with what life has offered them. That is Nandalala in a nutshell.

Firstly; Nandalala is not just a movie, it is an experience. It would be unfair to try and sum up this exquisitely crafted work in a few words. That is partly because it tries to say so little but conveys so much. It cannot be described, it has to be understood. It is the narration that will leave you spellbound. A movie with just two central characters moving along the road requires a precarious balancing act by the director to prevent boredom from creeping in. Here, Mysskin has just excelled in holding the viewers’ attention. He makes the audience feel the pain of the characters, generate empathy and is even able to make one’s eyes go moist. The emotions and happenings on screen look so genuine and endearing. The one thing about the movie that strikes you most is the uttermost economy of dialogues. Not a word more than what needs to be said is present throughout the movie. In fact, there are many key points where the director has completely done away with dialogues. In spite of this, the movie, or these portions, do not look like an inscrutable piece of abstract art. They enhance the subtle beauty of the movie on the whole. In all these portions the words that are left unsaid are magnificently conveyed by Ilaiyaraja’s notes. Mysskin had said during the making of the movie that Ilaiyaraja’s score will be one of the characters of the movie; how true. Each and every sound from the master elevates the movie to a new level. Oscar or not; he is the ultimate genius when it comes to creating soulful music that enhances the viewing experience. Another highlight of the movie is the way it ends; there is no forced twist or tragedy aimed at creating an impact. The climax is as original as the rest of the movie.

Mysskin has lived the role of Bhaskar Mani. While watching the movie, we completely forget that this is the same man who wrote and directed this. He convinces and floors you with his performance. No one would have ever imagined that such a brilliant actor existed within this director. You have to see for yourself. Ashwath Ram has carried the weight placed on his tender shoulders very efficiently. Snigdha comes up trumps in the first performance oriented role of her career. Other actors like Nasser and Rohini come in brief parts. But it is undoubtedly Mysskin and Ashwath Ram who take all the thunder.

One would expect such a simple and straightforward movie to have very few highlights on the technical front. But, camera by Mahesh Muthuswamy will leave you asking for more. Yes, there are no big sets or extravagant locations. But, the rustic and natural beauty of rural Tamil Nadu is brought out. The shots that show the simple flora and fauna of the landscape captivate the eye. Khakin’s editing is another vital aspect of the movie. The transitions between different episodes of the journey have been brilliantly executed. Action is not action; it is the natural and rough skirmish along the roadside.

All said and done; the above words are not adequate to capture the essence of Nandalala; which is simplicity and pure love and affection untouched by the wariness of the big bad world. We have seen entertaining cinema, action thrillers, sentimental dramas, comedies etc..but Nandalala is one that transcends genres and even barriers of language. We often hear about movies from distant and obscure parts of the world that captivate people all over the globe; Nandalala seems to be in that league. Mysskin has placed himself in a position where very few in Tamil cinema have been. It is an honest labor of love from the director’s heart. Let’s stand up and applaud.


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