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NOTA movie review: Vijay Devarakonda is a rowdy politician in this topical drama

NOTA movie review: Vijay Devarakonda’s political drama works purely as the scenes rely more on reminding audiences of real life situations than showing them splendid performances.

regional movies Updated: Oct 05, 2018 14:50 IST
Priyanka Sundar
Priyanka Sundar
Hindustan Times
NOTA movie review,NOTA review,NOTA movie rating
NOTA movie review: Vijay Deverakonda plays a rowdy politician in his recent outing.

NOTA
Director: Anand Shankar
Writer: Shan Karuppusamy
Cast: Vijay Deverakonda, Sathyaraj, Nassar, Sanchana Natarajan, Mehreen Pirzada
Rating: 2.5/5

A young man who loves working abroad visits India to spend time with his sister and party with his friends. Instead, he ends up becoming the Chief Minister of an Indian state overnight. Sounds atrocious, doesn’t it? Illogical, even. The character of Varun, played by Vijay Deverakonda in NOTA, only emphasises how appalling this is.

Audiences in Tamil Nadu would surely be able to relate to this strange plot; after all, they were also given a new Chief Minister overnight. One line of dialogue delivered by Sanchana Natarajan’s young politician from the opposition party sets the tone for the entire film. “Is this musical chairs or the throne of a statesman who rules?” she asks.

From a thug-turned-politician falling on his party leader’s feet to a ‘yogi’ indirectly ruling the state – it’s all rooted in reality. Particularly hilarious is the moment when several MLAs are taken to a resort to convince them to vote for a corrupt man. It says something about how inadequate politicians in the country are today.

For instance, when a state is under emergency, the strapping young man from London, Varun, suggests opening a war room. The older politicians are confused. What is a war room exactly? For Varun, a person who Netflix and chills, war rooms are what he’s seen in movies. The older men, however, wonder if he meant ‘bar room’.

“After all, we do have to stay awake and work all night. So maybe it is that,” they discuss among themselves. These politicians’ scant capability is rubbed on the faces of the audience. It stresses how clueless they are and tries to prove how an educated man when invested in politics can turn things around. The plot itself has some highlights and there are many applause-worthy moments, but these are surely because the scenes rely more on reminding audiences of real life situations than showing them splendid performances.

While the film is satisfactory to point, the performances are not deeply rooted in the reality of these situations. The writer, Shan Karuppusamy, and director Anand Shankar spend a lot of time in defining Varun as a capable politician, instead of showing the policies he would like to impletement. For instance, a solid 15 minutes in the film are dedicated to an entire sequence of a city being hit with floods and how well Varun manages the entire catastrophe. However, he isn’t above playing dirty politics.

This sort of grey character has been played by Vijay Deverakonda successfully before, but this time Varun falls short. Especially considering how he doesn’t take the bull by its horns. How he deals with the corrupt yogi would have been a better premise to prove Varun’s capability as a CM rather than tackling natural disasters, which only serve to emotionally manipulate audiences.

Here, the story comes second to the satirical political commentary, which isn’t satisfying to watch. It feels like the filmmakers succumbed to making a generic movie instead of focusing on singular points. This could be because of a certain real-life yogi.

Nassar as Vinodhan, an actor turned politician and Sathyaraj as Mahendran, a sincere political reporter, have played their parts well. Coming to the women in the film, Sanchana Natarajan’s role begins on a powerful note, but in the end she becomes a mere object who was used to push the story forward. Mehreen Pirzada plays a canny reporter, but just for a few minutes, and then all her reporting abilities vanish and she becomes just another person who helps the protagonist’s growth in the film. There are holes in how the characters are written, and these cannot disappear just because Vijay is a wonderful performer. The rowdy is impressive, but his crew - not so much.

Author tweets @Priyanka_S_MCC
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First Published: Oct 05, 2018 14:48 IST