Cast: Ajith Kumar, Shraddha Srinath, Abhirami Venkatachalam, Andrea Tariang
Director: H. Vinoth
Comparisons are unfair, but inevitable, especially when it involves movie remakes. But unlike what legendary author Gabriel Garcia Marquez once said that the English translations of some of his Spanish novels were far better than the originals, Tamil versions of Hindi films have been, more often than not, sloppy. Special 26 was one classic example of how the Tamil remake, Thana Serndha Koottam, with Surya doing a dhoti dance (which Akshay Kumar in Hindi never resorted to), looked messy with needless exaggerations, songs and intrusive background score. The Bollywood original scrupulously avoided all these and scored.
The other example can be the Mohanlal starrer, Drishyam, which was remade in Tamil with Kamal Haasan, and titled Papanasam. Though Jeethu Joseph helmed both, his Tamil creation was not as effective as the one in Malayalam. Haasan wanted Tamil sensibilities – whatever these mean – incorporated, and Papanasam slipped a tad bit.
Of course, Hindi cinema can also been as guilty. Sujoy Ghosh's Badla followed its Spanish original, a thriller, The Invisible Guest – which unfortunately had too many holes. Ghosh could have taken the liberty to plug them. But no, he did not! And Badla appeared contrived and convoluted.
However, Vinoth's Ajit-starrer, Nerkonda Paarvai, is an exception – but to a point. Here the screenplay is almost faithful to the Hindi original, Pink (directed by Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury)in which Amitabh Bachchan played a defence counsel, arguing for three young women – normal professionals who share a flat. Meera (Shraddha Srinath/Taapsee in Hindi), Famita (Abhirami Venkatachalam/Kirti Kulhari) and Andrea (Andrea Tariang in both) go to a rock concert, where they befriend three boys, have drinks and dinner with them. As the night progresses, things turn ugly with the girls being harassed and pawed. In anger, Meera hits one of the guys, Aadhik (Arjun Chidambaram) with a bottle, wounding him – and in panic the girls run away.
Like we have seen a million times in cinema, the injured boy has political clout, and the girls find themselves in a tight spot – with Meera being hauled to a police lock-up.In steps Bharath Subramanian (Ajith Kumar reprising Bachchan's part), a lawyer who had given up legal practice many moons ago, but watching the hapless girls across the road from his balcony, he gets into his black robe to defend them.
Nerkonda Paarvai is fine till this point, but I do not know who got impatient with presenting a very subdued and highly controlled Ajith. Was it the director? Or Ajith himself? Or both, perhaps fearing a backlash at the box-office from a huge, huge fanbase that would hate to see an Ajith in this avatar. So, Ajith – as Subramanian – has to jump into his four-wheeler, chase the goondas sent to beat him up by Aadhik's politician uncle. There is an uncomfortably long fight sequence with Subramanian pounding a dozen or so men!
Also, there is another digression about Subramanian's early life with his pregnant wife (essayed by Vidya Balan) – and her death, which appears to be the cause of his serious psychiatric disorder. These kind of scenes push the narrative away from what it sets out to say in the first place: a woman's no means no! But what was really incredulous was the movie's opening shot of a skimpily clad Srinath (otherwise giving us a lovely performance as one battered and bruised, hurt and humiliated) dancing away at the rock show with Kalki Koechlin for on-stage company. A rank bad introduction.
In the final analyses, Ajith is superb, but, unlike Bachchan, who can now dare to be minus his star image, the Tamil superhero is yet to pick up courage to do this. So, about 30 minutes in a 156-minute-long movie is allotted for Ajith to show off his muscles and man power – a sheer crowd-pulling device that in a work like Nerkonda Paarvai sticks out like a sore thumb.