Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching the new Tamil film Bommai Nayagi which is now streaming on Zee5. It has been an interesting year for Tamil Cinema in terms of its content. While the biggies like Varisu have not been impressive, smaller independent films like Thalaikoothal have caught my attention. I still feel that there is a lot to be discovered as far as independent films are concerned and you never know when you might find a gem!
As far as Bommai Nayagi is concerned, One thing that did draw me towards the film was Pa Ranjith who is one of the producers of the film. He is known for gems like Sarapatta Parambarai and continues to back films with solid content which made me want to believe in his latest product as well. Again, I hadn’t heard about the film and did accidently stumble upon it which made me think that its marketing was low key during its theatrical release as well. Finally the film has premiered on an OTT platform and here are my thoughts on Bommai Nayagi.
Story & Screenplay
Bommai Nayagi follows the story of a tea stall owner whose daughter is privy to a heinous crime that changes their lives forever. The story here is hard-hitting and relevant in terms of the loopholes in our system. And while most stories end at a certain point, this one doesn’t which was a good decision to begin with but it also had its share of flaws, something which I will discuss here. The screenplay standing at a shade above 2 hours does make for a taut watch.
The drama does have a typical three act structure with the first 45 minutes devoted to some solid world building. I really do like films that give you a glimpse of the atnosphere around which the drama is set in. Here the atmosphere is of castism with a clear demarcation between the influential people and the poor people. There is a sense of uneasiness to the drama wherein you almost sense the worst to follow. The proceedings are taut and they spiral a web around the politics of the area which is pretty well presented. In between, you are introduced to the protagonist who is from a humble background staying with his family comprising of his wife and daughter. But what follows is a crime that can best be classified as heinous!
The story does take the legal route following the crime which was the only way forward. The court proceedings are interesting and very grounded with the manner in which they are presented. With the typical trope of the influential people flexing their muscles to the suffering of the poor, the writing does showcase that pretty well. And soon to be surprise and to round up the second act, the court judgement is announced. Now you would generally associate this with the ending of a film which would essentially formulate either a negative or a positive ending. But at this stage, the film still had about 30 minutes to go!
The events leading up to the final act are interesting wherein the writers did take the effort to show bits of realism with respect to how the law is exploited by the influential people. But at the same time, I did feel a little hard done in by its ending which was slightly far fetched and something that did feel out of place especially with the route that was taken. Had they opted for the other path(rather than the one which was opted for, you will know when you watch it), it was have been even more impactful. This for me was a diluted ending which did not work for me. But overall, the screenplay is hard-hitting and sensitive with the delicate subject that it was tackling.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational and crucial in keeping the drama grounded. The music did go perfectly with the mood of the drama and it also did well to represent a very rooted culture. The BGM is good too. The cinematography is good and captures some frames pretty well. Director Shan does an impressive job in handling a sensitive subject with utmost care. Apart from the ending, his direction was on point right throughout.
The performances by the ensemble cast is quite good. Srimathi as the little kid Bommai is affectionate and she pulls off her role pretty well. Lizzie Anthony as the lawyer has her moments to shine. Subatra Robert who plays the mother is wonderful to watch and she is pitch perfect with her mannerisms. There is something about Yogi Babu when he goes completely opposite to his comic avatar. In Mandela, he was exceptional and here as Velu, in a role with not an iota of comedy, he is absolutely brilliant. His silent struggles required a sense of calmness with a turmoil of emotions within, and he absolutely hits the right notes.
Bommai Nayagi is a hard-hitting drama that doesn’t end where most do, making it a solid watch. Available on Zee5.