When veteran director Selvaraghavan teamed up with versatile actor Suriya, alongside Sai Pallavi and Rakul Preet Singh in the lead roles, expectations were high. Surya was last seen in the 2018 heist film Thaanaa Serndha Koottam and his fans have been waiting for Nandha Gopalan Kumaran (NGK) since its trailer released.
Nandha Gopalan Kumaran (NGK), played by Suriya is introduced as an organic farmer who caters to the needs of the people around him. “Avanku naatu mela paithyam (He is fanatic about his country),” says his mother. His mom keeps taunting him for not being a dutiful son and husband, taking time to serve people ‘outside’ their home. Geetha Kumaran, played by Sai Pallavi is a devoted wife, who supports her husband’s deeds. Very soon, he encounters a problem which leads him into politics. Initially hesitant, he understands the changes he could make as a politician—those he failed to achieve as a normal social worker. The rest of the story deals on how he accomplishes the same.
This is a tried and tested formula, and a young man entering politics to fix the system is pretty much every other hero Tamil audience has seen. And sadly, this Selvaraghavan film offers nothing new.
Personally, in spite of the first half being a drag, I still liked it. Suriya has no mass entry (should have been a major disappointment for fans after erecting the world largest cut-out at Thiruthanni), and with the title displayed, the film soon shifts to a middle-class household followed by light-hearted conversations. You fall in love with NGK (all credit to Suriya’s performance) and you even empathise with his character who struggles to fight against corrupt systems in the country.
From there on, the movie falls flat. From being the uncertain helpless youth who wants to help the people around him, NGK outrightly turns into a smart tactical player who is aware of everyone and everything around him. He does not care if his actions are right or wrong, as far as he could achieve his needs. Rakul Preet Singh, playing Vanathi Thiagarajan, one of the top PR agents in the country is established as a badass voice behind the opposition leader, against the backdrop of the upcoming assembly elections. But she immediately falls head over heels for NGK, who enchants her with his ‘obnoxious attitude’. In spite of NGK outsmarting Vanathi on several occasions, he still comes back to her for ‘advice’. He completely forgets his wife (romancing Vanathi) and his family until another turn of events. Geetha Kumaran, portrayed as a strong character in the initial scenes, decides to hold up to her husband’s image by convincing herself, it is normal for a politician to have illicit relationships!
Suriya’s performance is top-notch; the only shining grace that holds this film together. Sai Pallavi and Rakul Preet Singh have given decent performances, but fail to leave an impact due to their poorly written characters.
Yuvan Shankar Raja’s background score is a major highlight but the songs disrupt the pace in this already tiresome journey. The choreography is a let-down to an otherwise average composition. The second half of the movie drains all your energy, with misplaced songs, unsolicited fight sequences and never-ending preaching. Towards the end of the movie, when NGK says ‘Kathukuren’ (I will learn); you are left wondering if it is an unintended apology from the director for putting the audience through this 148-minute wearisome watch.
Cast: Suriya, Sai Pallavi, Rakul Preet Singh