Direction: H. Vinoth
Cast: Ajith Kumar, Shraddha Srinath, Abhirami, Andrea Tariang, Rangaraj Pandey
It takes a lot of guts for a star with a mass hero image to accept a film where he portrays a subtle (yet effective) character sans ‘massy elements.’ However, Ajith Kumar’s towering screen presence comes of great help in Nerkonda Paarvai, a film that makes a powerful statement on the prevailing feudal mindset of the majority of Indians, where different yardsticks are used to judge men and women. A man of Ajith’s stature is bound to create ripples in the media and the messages get spread far and wide. And needless to say, he nails his character of a lawyer named Bharath Subramaniam and owns the film. NKP is a remake of Bollywood hit Pink, which was seen as a revolutionary film that brought to the fore the idea of consent and why it is key in any sexual act.
Meera Krishnan (Shraddha Srinath), Famitha Banu (Abhirami Venkatachalam), and Andrea (Andrea Tariang) are three middle class working girls who share an apartment in the city. After attending a weekend rock concert, they accept a dinner invitation from three young men Adhik (Arjun Chidambaram), Vishwa (Adhik Ravichandran) and Venky (Ashwin Rao) to a resort in Mahabalipuram.
Unfortunately, the evening takes an ugly turn for them after a couple of drinks. The boys start behaving funny. Venky tries to touch Andrea inappropriately. Adhik forces himself onto Meera despite her strong disapproval, and in self-defence, she hits him heavily with a beer bottle leaving him bleeding. All three girls flee from the place.
However, the happy trio’s life turns nightmarish as Adhik and co with their political influences constantly intimidate them. Going to the police did not help them either. On the other hand, Adhik files an FIR on Meera of the attempt to murder charges, labelling her a whore who goes to any extent to extract money. Now enters lawyer Bharath Subramanian (Ajith), a neighbour suffering from bipolar disorder and depression after experiencing a personal loss. He steps forward to help out the girls.
The performances are top-notch with Ajith leading the way. Shraddha in a challenging role shines every bit and performs brilliantly. Equally impressive are Abhirami and Andrea who was also part of the original. All three boys are adequate. Rangaraj Pandey, the TV news anchor turned actor who plays the opposition lawyer is a good extension of what he does (being loud) on the small screen. Vinoth for the most part of the remake has faithfully adhered to the original retaining its core essence. He has handled the courtroom scenes well and his hard-hitting dialogues warrant mention, especially when Ajith professes ‘No means No’.
However, in order to please Ajith fans, the director resorts to few commercial compromises including a mass fight sequence in the pre-interval portion. And though Ajith and Vidya Balan (in a cameo) as a couple look loveable, the backstory does not add anything to the narrative.
Nirav Shah’s cinematography and Yuvan Shankar Raja’s background score provides the ideal ambience for this flick. On the whole, NKP arrives at a time when reports on moral policing and sexual abuses are on a high, and conveys the right message highlighting the importance of consent.