NGK movie cast: Suriya, Sai Pallavi, Rakul Preet
NGK movie director: Selvaraghavan
NGK movie: 2.5 stars
What happens when an ‘artistic’ filmmaker, known for specific kinds of films, collaborates with a mainstream commercial hero? What happens when two different worlds merge? How easily can a ‘serious’ director pull off a crowd-pleasing story? What could be the result? A hotchpotch. NGK isn’t a Mudhalvan, Sarkar, NOTA or a Bharat Ane Nenu, but somewhat plays out that way. For those yet to watch the Suriya-starrer, how do I describe the film in a few words? NGK could be Kokki Kumar’s son (the character played by Dhanush in Pudhupettai). But again, the tone of NGK is drastically different from the 2006 cult classic. I’m not sure, thus.
NGK is about Nandha Gopalan Kumaran, a grassroots worker, who eventually becomes the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. There is a certain classiness to this intense political drama that you can’t deny—but NGK, on the whole, isn’t satisfying. Simply put, it is neither a Selvaraghavan nor a Suriya film. You may say it doesn’t have to be. But that matters to an extent, right?
Kumaran (Suriya), an organic farmer who has completed M.Tech and PhD, joins a political party to do good for the locals. He is frustrated by the system and wants a change. As Kumaran’s mother puts it, he is “mad about the country.” Selvaraghavan is an avid fan of MGR. Maybe, that’s why he has named his protagonist NGK that also comes with three initials.
The best moments in NGK are those where Kumaran doesn’t exactly play the ‘hero’ but a sidekick. It is in these instances the drama unfolds and that the film manages to touch the bar of a Selvaraghavan film. Suriya delivers a sincere performance, undoubtedly, though it takes some time to warm up to his character. Kumaran isn’t like Selvaraghavan’s typical heroes. He is less psychic and predictable. There is only so much an actor can do.
The film begins as an excellent character study and then proceeds to be a political drama that explores the genre with seriousness. But someone needs to change the template of the genre, so as to speak, in Tamil cinema. Why keep doing something a Shankar or AR Murugadoss would do? A random filmmaker, perhaps, can attempt that, but definitely not Selvaraghavan. I am not saying it is easy writing, but NGK is the simplest yet safest film of Selvaraghavan to date. If you have missed him, please go back and catch Aayirathil Oruvan and Irandaam Ulagam.
He writes the most complex and powerful female characters, which NGK doesn’t have. Rakul Preet plays Vanathi, a political analyst, but her character seems an extension of Megna, her role in the previous outing, Dev. Sai Pallavi plays Geetha, Kumaran’s jealous wife. I couldn’t help but compare them with Selvaraghavan’s iconic onscreen women characters. Think of Sonia Agarwal from 7G Rainbow Colony, or Sneha in Pudhupettai or Richa Gangopadhyay in Mayakkam Enna. They were real, not animated. Unfortunately, Sai Pallavi and Rakul Preet’s characters don’t live up to the hype. NGK shows no interest in exploring their personalities and reduces them to a stereotype.
Why do we still talk about Kokki Kumar, Kathir (Ravi Krishna in 7G Rainbow Colony) and Karthik (Dhanush in Mayakkam Enna)? There cannot be another Kokki Kumar. That’s the problem with NGK. Suriya’s character isn’t like that. It reminds us of several other political drama protagonists. Although the film puts all efforts in elevating its protagonist, NGK lacks the finesse of a mass film that builds drama from subtle moments. This lack of coherence between what’s said and what’s shown adds to the flatness in the narrative. The narrative is rather incoherent and convoluted, without working on the links that connect them.
Songs are a huge disappointment. None of them has a recall value, given that Selvaraghavan and Yuvan Shankar Raja have given so many hit numbers in the past. NGK is a tad filmy for a film that’s quite rooted. The political overtones, very much on the surface bits don’t really work. But you can watch it for the rock solid performance by Suriya, and of course, for Selvaraghavan, who has directed his first ‘mass’ film with a star. (Dhanush and Karthi were relatively new then)
When NGK ends, we cannot help but see the gap between what was promised in the trailer, and what was delivered finally.