Navarasa movie review: Netflix delivers a potpourri of greats and duds, Arvind Swami stands out
The idea of exploring nine rasas through the format of an anthology makes Navarasa one of the most innovative attempts at filmmaking from Tamil cinema in recent years. However, when you start to dissect each rasa or emotion through the shorts, you realise that not all of them work.
While a few shorts succeed in translating the emotion into the story, the rest barely manage to make a dent. Also, it can get extremely exhausting to watch over five hours of shorts in one go.
Watch the trailer for Navarasa:
One of the most anticipated shorts, Guitar Kambi Mela Nindru, features Suriya in the lead. Directed by Gautham Vasudev Menon, the short explores the theme of love. It leaves you drained with its extremely cliched romantic setup. The story is centered on a musician and how he gets inspired to get better at his work after he meets a girl. Suriya and Prayaga play the lead characters and as much as they strive to bring out the chemistry, everything feels artificial. While romance is his sweet spot, Gautham Menon is getting repetitive with his writing, and it is as though he’s stuck in a loop and being forced to make the same stories.
Karthick Naren’s short, which is titled Project Agni, explores the theme of wonder. It’s one of the best shorts of the anthology and qualifies as Karthick’s best work till date. In just 30 minutes, he comes up with a mind-bending science-fiction thriller that packs a solid punch. From talking about human civilisation to alien life and subconscious reality; the short leaves you awestruck by the end. Arvind Swami and Prasanna keep you pinned with their performances till the last minute.
Vasanth S Sai’s Payasam is set against the backdrop of a brahmin wedding. Based on the theme of disgust, it stars veteran actor Delhi Ganesh in the lead while Rohini and Aditi Balan are seen in supporting roles. The short talks about how one man’s jealousy pushes him to do something that leaves his own daughter feel disgusted. It takes a very predictable route to make its point.
Arvind Swami makes a solid directorial debut with Roudhram, which explores the theme of anger. The writing and the filmmaking make it the best short of the anthology. It is centered on the investigation of a young boy who has knocked down a man with a hammer in a fit of rage. As the cops try to find the reason behind his action, the story cuts back to narrate what pushed him to the edge. But the big surprise comes in the form of a final twist.
Rathindran Prasad’s short, Inmai, about fear, features Siddharth and Parvathy Thiruvothu coming together for what’s a very interesting take on horror. It turns the usual tropes associated with the horror genre on its head to present a drama that delves deep into what fear really is for them.
Karthik Subbaraj’s short about peace is about the price one has to pay for giving up to fight. It’s set against the backdrop of the civil war between LTTE and the Sri Lankan army. It focuses on a few LTTE soldiers at an outpost and their encounter with a young boy. The idea is praiseworthy but somehow the message doesn’t get translated effectively enough to leave an impact. It features Bobby Simhaa and Gautham Menon in key roles.
Sarjun’s short on courage is the weakest of the lot. Another story that explores the mindset of a soldier who is handed over the responsibility of transporting a wounded Naxalite to a hospital. The short asks whether saving a life takes more courage than taking one? However, the intention behind the short never comes through convincingly enough. It stars Atharvaa Murali and Kishore as the central characters.
Bejoy Nambiar’s Edhiri, about compassion, stars Vijay Sethupathi and Revathy in the lead roles. Even though the central theme is about compassion, the short also touches upon themes like guilt and forgiveness. Can a wife forgive the killer of her husband? It’s a slow-burning drama that relies on strong performances from Vijay Sethupathi, who once again shines with his minimalistic acting, and Revathy.
Priyadarshan’s short on the emotion of laughter is a major letdown. It features Yogi Babu, a popular comedian, in the lead but the short is devoid of laugh-out-loud moments. It has a very interesting premise but struggles to evoke any laughs for the most part.
Cast: Suriya, Vijay Sethupathi, Delhi Ganesh, Rohini, Revathy, Prayaga Martin, Siddharth, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Arvind Swami, Prasanna, Rythvika, Atharvaa Murali and Yogi Babu
Directors: Arvind Swami, Bejoy Nambiar, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Karthik Subbaraj, Karthick Naren, Priyadarshan, Rathindran R Prasad, Sarjun and Vasanth S Sai