NGK, starring Suriya, Sai Pallavi and Rakul Preet Singh and directed by Selvaraghavan, traces the rise of Nanda Gopalan Kumaran, a politician with a difference, out to make a difference. Until it all goes sideways.
Everything About Everything
With Pudhupettai (2006), Selvaraghavan made ‘politics’ a genre. NGK could be considered the second film, in what I hope will someday be an exploratory trilogy on the same theme.
If Pudhupettai was a micro-view of the nexus between politics and area/block level gangs, NGK is a stark overview of politics in Tamil Nadu today.
The director’s genius is in keeping it PG 13. What films like LKG, Gurkha, NOTA and Maharshi tried and failed to achieve, NGK does with flair; making the story of a political do-gooder engaging, un-preachy and edgy.
That’s the difference between Vijay’s Sarkar and NGK.
I-PAC Is Everywhere
Rakul Preet Singh plays the head of ‘Solutions’, an organisation that helps political parties win, topple governments and control new media. Sound familiar? That’s because it’s the on-screen version of I-PAC, which did exactly that for the BJP in 2014, and for the Congress in Punjab in 2015, and for Jagan Mohan Reddy in 2019. Selvaraghavan tells it as it is, without exaggeration. That’s what makes it all even more creepy.
Uma as Suriya’s mother and Sai Pallavi as his wife have been given fully fleshed-out roles that drive the plot forward. Selvaraghavan’s perspective of a husband-wife relationship is typically wrought with a constant undercurrent of tension.
Sai Pallavi makes this palpable and swallows Suriya’s screen presence in the explosive emotional bits. Just like she did with Dhanush in Maari 2. And in Fidaa before that. For Rakul Preet Singh, this was a role of a lifetime. If not for her language barrier, it would have been pitch perfect.
Suriya is Back
I’ve been waiting for the actor in him to resurface for almost a decade now. As NGK, Suriya delivers a layered performance. It’s not just the fact that he’s given free reign to weep, fight, monologue and posture. All through the film, as an outsider, his character hates politics and politicians. But that’s the world he inhabits and that’s who he’s trying to be. And so every time he learns something new and cliched, he delivers the dialogue like he’s play acting. Like the silver work on a sweet meat, he coats an innocuous dialogue in subtle sarcasm that no one within the screen gets; but everyone in the audience understands.
The End, The Beginning
This is one film both can be proud of, despite its random song/dance sequences and unsettling foot between mass and parallel story telling.
Suriya is back. So is Selvaraghavan. And so is music director Yuvan Shankar Raja. Even the love songs on loop will drive you into sweet melancholy.
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