You’ll know if Nimirndhu Nil is the kind of movie for you when you hear these words at the opening: “You are the statue. You are the sculptor. Shape yourself well, and the world will shape out well.” Movies usually end with messages, but the director Samuthirakani begins with one – and thereon, the film is just one well-meaning exhortation after another. The screenplay, sometimes, feels less a collection of dialogues and emotional cues than a series of op-ed pieces sewn together in the most stentorian fashion.
Remember “Rules” Ramanujam from Shankar’s Anniyan? Arvind (“Jayam” Ravi) is something similar. He’s studied the Gita, the Bible, the Quran, the Thirukkural, and for relaxation, he flips through a copy of the Kena Upanishad. And he’s shocked when he realises that the people in the world outside don’t seem to have read any of these books – at least they behave that way. He’s shocked when people drive motorbikes while talking on cell phones. He’s shocked when two men cause an accident on the road and refuse to move their cars, oblivious to the ambulance that’s stuck in their wake. He’s shocked when a traffic cop insists on a bribe even though he has all his papers. He’s shocked when he’s thrown in jail and sees that his cell mate is using ganja. He’s shocked about acid attacks, about rapes. In short, the film’s early portions list out a catalogue of sins that incite Arvind to do something to shake up the society around him.
And he does. He lays traps, with help from honest public servants, and has the corrupt public servants arrested – one of whom likes wearing caps with legends like “Mr. Clean,” “Mr. Honest” and “Mr. Truth.” Irony, I suppose.
The first half is devoted to Arvind’s victory, news of which spreads through the state, cheering the common man. But the second half, inexplicably, is structured like a revenge saga. The people Arvind exposed now form a team, discover that there’s someone from Andhra Pradesh (also “Jayam” Ravi) who looks like Arvind and who can be used to topple him (cue “mass” song-and-dance with Telugu lyrics) – and somewhere along the way, Arvind transforms from scripture-reading pacifist to the kind of guy who rams his van into the Pajero in front of him, being driven by his doppelganger.
Amala Paul is in there somewhere, making sad faces whenever Arvind gets into trouble. Sarath Kumar is in there somewhere, hoping you don’t blink and miss him. Gaana Bala is in there somewhere, apparently sensing our general dismay, and attempting to cheer us up with a song that goes “Don’t worry, be happy.”
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