Naane Varuven – The Dhanush-Selva-Yuvan combo wins again
The Dhanush-Selvaraghavan-Yuvan combo redefined Tamil cinema with their pathbreaking super hits ‘Thulluvadho Ilamai’, ‘Kadhal Kondein’ and ‘Pudupettai’. Now after about 12 years, the combo has joined hands with Kalaipuli S Thanu to come up with a supernatural psychological thriller ‘Naane Varuven’. Whether the film will appeal to viewers beyond the Selva universe remains to be seen.
The film opens in a secluded North Indian forest area where a couple live with their school going twin sons Kathir and Prabhu. While the latter is a normal child the former is problematic and is seen as an evil incarnate by everyone. When Kathir hurts a small girl by lighting her on fire his father ties him up at the gate of a cemetery hoping it will cure him. Cut to the present Prabhu (Dhanush) lives an upper middle class life with his wife (Indhuja Ravichandran) and teenage daughter Sathya (Shelly Kishore). The young girl suddenly shows signs of possession and when investigated further it is revealed that she can be cured only if Prabhu commits a murder. Who the doting father should kill to save his child and why is what ‘Naane Varuven’ is all about.
Dhanush has displayed a new dimension in acting by portraying the hero as well as the villain with subtlety. If as Prabhu the scenes where he dotes over his daughter are moving, as Kathir he is completely the opposite when running riot against his own wife and children. The ‘Asuran’ draws together and expresses the evil beyond redemption with just his dance steps for “Veera Soora”. On the whole the film is a complete Dhanush show all the way. Indhuja Ravichandran and Ell Avram appear as the respective wives of Prabhu and Kathir. Both have not given enough scope to standout but are adequate. Ilayathilagam Prabhu and Yogi Babu ask each other why they are tagging along with the hero and the same is true for their roles too. Shelly Kishore who plays Sathya is riveting as the possessed teen girl. The most interesting character in the film is Selva’s short cameo as Soomarajan a psychopath who inspires Kathir. The twins who play the younger versions of Dhanush and Kathir’s sons are aptly cast.
What works best in ‘Naane Varuven’ is the middling first half that manages to sustain interest by establishing the conflict between the hero and the villain in their young age. The progression of the possession of Sathya though seen in several latter day Hollywood films is refreshing in its Tamil version. There is also a few laughs when the ghost is smoked out with scientific methods. The interval block reveal drives the D fans crazy.
On the downside the interesting core idea has not been explored fully well in the screenplay. For example the relationship between the evil Dhanush and Selvaraghavan could have been fleshed out fully which could have even rendered the done and dusted ghost angle redundant. Barring Prabhu and Sathya no other character including Kathir is given any screen time to connect with the audience. The climax portion is contrived and is unaffecting.
Yuvan Shankar Raja’s background score is a treat to the ears and no wonder he reserves his best for Selva and Dhanush. Omprakash’s lenses capture the eeriness of Sathya’s prediction by never letting us near her and by contrast gets very close to Kathir to let us peek into his soul through his eyes. Prasanna G.K. has done a good job in keeping the runtime crisp at just a little over two hours. Kalaipuli S Thanu has bankrolled the film with his brand of high production values. Dhanush the story writer has attempted to mix the horror and psychological thriller genre. Selvaraghavan’s signature is visible when establishing the core conflict of the film and infusing a fresh approach to the supernatural portions. However whether his latest attempt will give the same pleasure beyond his fandom is a big question.
Verdict : Dont miss this one if you are a Dhanush-Selva-Yuvan fan.