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Movie Review: Nenjuku Needhi

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The Times Of India
20th May, 2022 12:00 IST

Nenjuku Needhi Movie Review: 'If all are equal, then, who will be the king ? The one who thinks all are equal' - Similar to this dialogue in the film, Udhayanidhi Stalin 's Nenjukku Needhi is powerful, hard-hitting and thought-provoking. Though Tamil cinema has been churning out many films of late that talk about caste disparities and social injustice, this film hits us hard right from the word go. We know exactly what's going to happen next, but then, the writing and the making is so effective that they keep you engrossed.

A remake of the Bollywood film Article 15 , the film is all about an IPS officer investigating an heinous crime that involves the mysterious death of two dalit girls and a missing girl.

Vijayragavan (Udhayanidhi Stalin), an IPS officer, gets posted in a rural part of Tamil Nadu, where caste discrimination and untouchability is still in practice. Though Vijayragahvan has read about the discrimination in many books, it gets difficult for him to confront these problems in real life. While he is still grappling with the ideologies of the people around him and trying to educate them, a mysterious case of three missing dalit girls, who were employed in the local factory, makes his life more miserable. Two are found dead, but the case gets complicated, as there is no trace of the third one. Who is behind this heinous crime and how Vijayraghavan takes this case forward despite pressure from his casteist higher officials forms the rest of the plot.

While the core plot is not something new, Arunraja Kamaraj 's screenplay and the agony that the characters undergo make us root for the film. There is a scene in which Vijayragahvan discusses the caste system and the number of subdivisions within it with his subordinates. Though it makes us laugh, Vijayragahvan's reply to them would resonate with most of the viewers. The writing is so effective as most of the dialogues deserve an applause.

Just when we think that things are going overboard, the makers justify it with interesting incidents and the setting in which the characters live in. The cinematography (by Dinesh Krishnan) and the music are the heroes here. Composer Dhibu Ninan Thomas has understood the pulse of the film and elevated the scenes to another level. Udhayanidhi has done justice to the role played by Ayushmann Khurrana in the original, and this character feels tailor-made for him.

The only drawback is that some sequences are predictable and the narration has some lag in the first half. However, the pre-interval block, in which Vijayragahvan walks into the station with a notice paper on 'Article 15' more than compensates for it.

Aari's character as Kumaran, a dalit leader and a revolutinist, is perfect. However, the makers could have concentrated more on his character with a backstory as it would have made us empathise with him. Tanya Ravichandran, who appears as a gender-equality activist, and Shivani Rajashekar, as Kurunji, do a good job.

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