Director : Shakti Soundar Rajan CAST: Sibiraj, Arundhati

Naaigal Jaakirathai

Just because a film does not have the usual commercial formula of Tamil cinema, it cannot be seen as a film that stands out of the crowd. This film, Naaigal Jaakirathai (NJ) suits this point. It is true, NJ has a new concept. However, as a film, it only looks like the same old, clichéd commercial-masala film of Tamil cinema.

The Belgian Shepherd dog, as “Subramani”. It is a good choice of breed. It has that natural magnificence, and at the same time, innocence that makes us fall in love with it in a moment. In fact, this dog has performed better than Sibiraj himself in portraying action, romance, emotions and heroism. If only the director had utilized the amazing ‘screen presence’ this dog has got in a better way, this film would’ve turned out to be a well-packed entertainer.

Is that a ‘Ramanarayanan’ style film?
Definitely not so miserable. The film is about a police officer (Sibiraj) in Coimbatore and a dog working with a military man in Kashmir. In two separate incidents, both these characters get a common psychological weakness, of fear of the sound of gunshots. Accidentally, the dog and the police man meet and come together as a team and in a matter of time they are after a gang that kidnaps girls. Things start connecting and turning in unexpected ways. If you get the feeling it is going to be a different experience, change your opinion. Though it has something different to offer, and not in a way as sloppy as a Ramanarayanan film, it gets sloppy in its own unique way, becoming yet another mediocre Tamil masala film.

The people to blame are director Sakthi S.Rajan and cinematographer Shafi. These two have failed miserably in visualizing a good story. Director Sakthi’s previous film was “Naanayam”, a film which was neat and clean, visually. This is exactly why you are shocked when you see such amateur work in his next film. Maybe, since it is a film produced by Sibi’s family, with Sibi in the lead role, supposedly hoping to be his ‘comeback film’, director Sakthi didn’t get enough freedom. Whatever be the reason, it is Sakthi and Shafi who are to be blamed for such hopeless visualization.

Thanks to editor Praveen.K.L, the film has come out in one good shape. However, though he has desperately tried to cover up all the glitches, this being done in Praveen’s usual ‘glittery, flashy’ style only leaves us irritated. For a film that travels as a ‘mild thriller’, Praveen’s style just doesn’t suit well. It in fact further upsets an already pitiable film. These glitches are spread all over the film too much that you keep wondering who made the worst mistakes- the editor, director or the cinematographer.
So the film only fails in the visualization? No. There are some problems at the basic level- the screenplay.
If you have not watched Naaigal Jaakirathai, please avoid reading the following paragraphs in quotes, as they might contain SPOILERS.

“The film’s story has been penned in an interesting way that almost all events right from the beginning to end are connected in some way. But concentrating more on the screenplay could’ve helped. There is no ‘smooth transition’ between consecutive scenes. The hero just jumps out of nowhere in a cut, and the next sequence continues. There is no proper ‘detailing’.

At one point the situation turns into a timed chase, and the heroine has to be saved in 6 hours. The following scenes have no continuity or intensity whatsoever. The hero keeps sobbing with his sister in the park, and then suddenly starts training his dog- a lot of confusion that kills the thrill. At no point you are able to empathize with the tension on screen.

There are some unexpected turns in the movie. For example, when the police try to corner a gang in a lodge, suddenly a prostitute comes out of nowhere and calls out to the police. The villains get alerted. It is true this was done with the intention of providing an unexpected turn of events in a second. But the prostitute should’ve been shown at least once, for a moment, in a flash, to make the scene even more thrilling, so that audience will feel closer to the happenings. The same problem repeats when the tranquilized dog suddenly wakes up, and in a lot more sequences throughout the movie. It is okay to use the ‘benefit of coincidence’ once in a screenplay. Using it again and again throughout the movie will only make it less interesting for the audience.
All unexpected twists and turns must be already ‘hinted’ ideas. That will help engaging the audience. All these are basic, beginner lessons in screenplay writing.”

120 bucks for a good story?
A film might be made with commercial intentions, but it must be made in an honest way to provide the audience with a good, quality film. This film, lacks ‘this’ honesty and sincerity. Minus its innovative concept, everything is clichéd and half-baked in this film. For example, consider the opening sequence, when a close bonding between an army man and a dog is shown. Just two usual, blunt shots here and there, and it’s all been conveyed! This continues all through the film, especially in the climax.

A few comical scenes and the dog’s mischievous behavior keep us engaged in the first half. The film gets on to a ‘thriller’ track in the second half, with a lot unexpected events. The villain, the dog, the heroine, and even the villain’s accomplices- everyone has a good, detailed characterization. The actor Arundhathi, as the heroine is a really good and innovative choice. What spoils these good attributes is the ‘template’ acting of the actors, adding to the ‘template’ execution by the director. When the hero gets on an ‘epic’ mission a song with ‘heavy traditional drums’ starts playing in the background. This is another template. This started from the ‘Nimirndhu Nil’ song from the movie Saroja- even the beats have not changed! Though it is interesting in the second half, it is only a matter of time, before things get repetitive and boring. A ‘twist’ is something that happens in the screenplay- conveying it through dialogues is the worst possible way of doing it.

So what if it fails in execution? It is still a film with a different concept- do you feel so? Then, try something. Grab a piece of paper, write the number ‘120’ on it, go to the theatre, offer it and ask for tickets. Will you be able to buy a ticket? Why not? It is similar- it is a paper with a number on it, just like a currency note. Can you accept that? No, because to call it money it needs to have a few more unique features. In the same way, to call it a good movie, it needs to have something more than just a good concept.

This film is for…
You cannot call it a film that offers wholesome entertainment. Though it has some interesting moments here and there, it only turns out to be a dragging film towards the end. Strong followers of Tamil masala films can attempt watching it once. If you are looking for something extremely different and of good quality this film might not end up first on your list, maybe, you can watch it for the dog. It doesn’t look like an honest attempt to provide a good film for entertainment.

(Heard someone saying in the theater- “Our audience will watch similar made in Hollywood, but when it comes to Tamil cinema, they look to criticize it.” This is a very wrong statement. First of all, the similarity between this film and the so-called Hollywood films lies only in the concept. For example, consider any Hollywood film with a similar concept, and observe the style of making and the sincerity in providing a wholesome entertainment, and then you’ll understand in which way, Naaigal Jaakirathai has become sloppy. In fact, this film is itself inspired from the film, ‘Buried’. Compare the two movies with their visualization and ideas, and know the difference.)

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About Author

Mahesh Raghavan

Mahesh Raghavan is a film buff and independent short filmmaker from Chennai. His interest for films of all genres and languages has grown over the years. One film a day is his thumb rule.

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One Response to “Naaigal Jaakirathai”

  1. Good one, but should have mentioned more about the heroine of this film and the way she was cast ..

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