Nayagan - All Time Best ???

At last, I watched Nayagan this weekend. No one will believe if I say I haven’t seen this movie but it is the fact in the sense that I haven’t seen the complete movie at a stretch but have seen bits and pieces on TV channels in programmes like Super Scenes etc., while watching the movie, first thought that came to my mind is “Nayagan” doesn’t deserve to be in the list of 100 all time best movies. Agreed that it is a masterpiece by the standards of Indian cinema when it got released but it has got its own (logically and technically) flaws.

Almost no creation is perfect but to get a tag like all-time best, it has to be minimum. As like any other common viewer I am in all praise for the bravo performance by Kamal Haasan, dialogues by Balakumaran, Cinematography by P.C.Sreeram, Background score by Illayaraja and above all for Maniratnam.

The second half is little dragging with lot of melodramatic stuff in it. Melodrama is no sin but it is deliberately added to gain more sympathy for Velunayakar character. For instance, Charu’s sudden decision to leave her father after her brother’s death is quite agreeable but I felt she was too harsh and especially her dialogues while leaving her father is too much. She knows what her father has been doing all these days then why this sudden explosive decision.

In the climax on the doorsteps of court, conversation between Velunayakar and his grandson can be said as the most touching moments of the movie but yet I thought the kid could have uttered those lines with some expression. I mean he was literally vomiting what he was taught with a plain face. Yet, the cute voice plays the trick.

The technique Velu uses to safely smuggle the goods from the sea is too simple. This idea may strike to anyone who is doing the same business for years together. Velu says, “Naan 10 vayasulayae sethirukka vendiyavan” and so I am not afraid of the judgement, then why did he play the hide and seek game with the police? Actually it gives space for the scenes to show (which has already been told very clearly before) how great and powerful person Velu nayakar is? May be the intention is to make Nasser (AC) understand how great a person he is, but a small conversation with Charu will do that.
It reaches an extreme level too much when an old lady sacrifices her life for saving Velu Nayakar. I mention this because; those portions are little dragging in the second half.

You may wonder why did I mention there is technical flaw in the movie. It is with the make-up. When people get older, only difference shown is just their white hairs and half baldheads. Physically they are as strong as ever. They couldn’t have done a make-up like that in Indian but a few wrinkles like make-up on the face would have made it. I wonder how a man of perfection forgot this.

I do have a small complaint on music in the sense that it doesn’t synch with the period of the movie except for “Naan sirithaal deepavali” song. “Thenpandi seemayile” is timeless; I have got no complaints about it but what about other songs. Come on, just by using T.R. Mahalingam and Susheela for “Anthi mazhai megam” doesn’t make it sound like an old song. I think IR was too adamant to come out of his style in spite of the script’s demand. In this sense I feel ARR stroke a balance between the period sound and Rahman sound in the songs of Iruvar.

In spite of all these flaws, the movie works big time because of one man called Maniratnam. Here I am going to repeat the same that I said when I wrote about Thalapathi. Maniratnam knows mass mesmerism and he knows well how to make the audience forget all these flaws with his tricky screenplay, shot composition and other technicalities. For instance, I just said about the kid’s plain expression in one of the most touching moments of the movie but that flaw is well balanced by Kamal’s performance and haunting score by Illayaraja. Actually when to compared to the flaws in Thalapathi, these are very minor. Don’t forget that I too like this movie but just wanted to share what I felt about the not so commonly discussed aspects of this movie.


Zero said...

I think the praise Nayagan garners is coz of its other qualities like being a-first-of-its-kind in many ways, path-breaking for Tamil cinema, technical expertise etc. rather than the movie's core story or the character motives etc. What I mean to say is the movie well might not qualify as being a deft moral play or a perfect non-judgemental story-telling; it does fall into many stereotypes of story-telling, IMO.
But, that it applied all these stereotypes without batting an eyelid (as the title itself would suggest) to a man blatantly on the other side of the law was what that made it path-breaking.
But, I don't seem to agree with your other complaints which are inevitable w.r.t. the times of Nayagan's release.
I didn't even give a thought if the songs like "Anthi Mazhai" megham need to sound conforming to its period, unlike "Naan sirithal Deepavali" which tries to portray actual songs really sung in brothels. All songs of Iruvar (MR's best film, IMO) were actually cine-songs and hence the need to sound them like they would. But, "anthi mazhai megham" is a filler as it used to be in the past. Its like asking if Inba in AE can hum the humming in "Sanda Kozhi" song.
As for the top 100, why even bother? it was just TIME's top 100, alright? There are a thousand other top 100s like these. Nayagan didn't find a place in any of them.

SamAruna said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
samaruna said...

Nayagan is truly an amazing movie. I will think, for Maniratnam and all those who were part of the team that made this movie, it is one life time glory!!!

Suresh Kumar said...

zero: hey cool baba, agreed (about the songs). I do know the limitations in film-making at the time of its release. hope my post has really bothered you. I too have said that it is technically "Path-breaking".

samaruna: yes it is.

Zero said...

Hey Suresh,
I was not :). I was just seeing from a neutral POV why Nayagan is what it is, inspite of being melodramatic in its content. I myself admire Nayagan mostly for its technical expertise rather than its actual content.
movie well might not qualify as being a deft moral play or a perfect non-judgemental story-telling; it does fall into many stereotypes of story-telling, IMO.
it was just TIME's top 100 [..] Nayagan didn't find a place in any of them.
In fact, (if u read the above statements I made) I was actually making a rather critical remark on Nayagan :).
But, I couldn't comprehend your other complaints on songs etc.

Prabhakar said...

First of all, an all time best list is always controversial. For it to be acceptable, it ideally has to be done by a person who has seen all the movies , when they were released and able to comapre them objectively. Any other method will result in unnnecessary biases. Most of the top 100 lists are biased in favour of contemporary movies or events.For example, David beckham , a moderately good player ranks very high in top footballers list.
The American film association consistenly rates Citizen Kane as the best film ever. But if you see the movie, you will wonder what the fuss is about. i wont even rank it in my top 1000. There only a few movies that transcend time and in my opinion Nayagan is definitely one of them. i feel this way because i saw the movie when it was released and i am able to compare it with the present movies. I dont agree with story of nayagan, which is nothing but romanticisation of the life of a mafia don, which was originally done in Godfather. But the strengths of the movie were the flawless screenplay, brilliant acting, apt scenes, good photography , great songs and background score, wonderful editing and to top it all spectacular direction. Just ask yourself how many movies are better than nayagan, in the last twenty years. I cant name that many.