Director Vignesh Shivan’s debut film Poda Podi received mixed reviews. A love story devoid of drama. It was modern, subtle, and broad minded. Naturally, Naanum Rowdy Dhaan, billed as a romantic comedy, came with high expectations of a fresh, drama-free love story. And boy, Naanum Rowdy Dhaan doesn’t disappoint.
Naanum Rowdy Dhaan begins with the introduction of Vijay Sethupathi’s real-life son, Suriya, playing a younger version of Pondi Paandi (Vijay Sethupathi). The boy is in a jail cell, filling out his school form. He’s genuinely confused about the ‘ambition’ column. Police or Rowdy? At first he says he wants to join the police. Then an inmate, rowdy Rajendran, starts narrating incidents. The boy re-words ‘Police’ into ‘Rowdy’. You begin to appreciate Vignesh’s eye for detail.
From the trailer, it’s clear that Vijay Sethupathi plays a rowdy-in-training. His mission: to kill a well-known rowdy in Chennai, Killi Valavan (Parthiepan). Why? Because, Killi Valavan is the only person Kadambari (Nayanthara) despises. The plot picks up as we learn about the story between Kadambari and Killi Valavan. The main driving point: Vijay Sethupathi succeed?
Naanum Rowdy Dhaan has the most stereotypical romantic plot imaginable. Guy does what girl wants to impress said girl. But, Vigneh Shivan improvises, and ordinary situations become extraordinary. Add subtle comedy, restrained love sequences, and intelligent screenplay. These three factors sum up Naanum Rowdy Dhaan.
The idea of the hero going out of his way to impress his ‘girl’ is formulaic. In fact, director Vijay’s Idhu Enna Maayam was all about a guy who created ‘romantic moments’ for two people to fall in love. Vignesh Shivan turns that concept on its head. There’s one scene where Vijay Sethupathi hugs Nayathara and kisses her on her forehead. In every other scene, you see them actually talking, and sorting out their issues. Like real-life, grown up, people.
Idharkuthaane Aasaipattai Balakumara was Vijay Sethupathi’s last successful film. Despite laudable performances in subsequent films, like Balakumara, none of his recent films have been successful by commercial cinema standards. His performance in Naanum Rowdy Dhaan might just turn the tide. He proves the versatility of his acting skills as Pondi Paandi, a version of Sumaar Moonji Kumaru. But with ‘gethu’ and a lot less ‘local’.
Nayanthara’s character in Thani Oruvan was widely appreciated. In particular, the scene in which she casually proposes to Jayam Ravi, was so popular that it made its way into memes on social media. The romantic sequences between Vijay Sethupathi and Nayanthara have a similar flow and have been etched with a careful hand. Nayanthara as the hearing impaired Kadambari, is outgoing, bold, and stylish. Special kudos to her costume designer and make-up stylist. Minimal make-up and cotton dresses. Works for us.
The dialogues are simple, but intriguing and memorable. Like this one, “Oru Ketta Police Rowdy Maadhiri, Oru Nalla Rowdy Police Maadhiri” (A bad cop is like a rogue, while a good rogue is treated as a police). Supporting characters, Mansoor Ali Khan, Anandhraj, Radhika Sarathkumar, Azhagam Perumal and RJ Balaji are used well. RJ Balaji’s character is different from his usual non-stop chatterbox roles. His mere presence on screen whets the comic appetite. And he doesn’t disappoint. Bring on his ‘Bokkkunu Kuthuven’ and trademark dialogues. One such wordplay was – “Kaadhu Kekadhadhuku Headset, Paayasam Kudika Palset“.
Parthiepan as Killi Valavan is flawless and menacing. It makes you wonder why he hasn’t done similar roles before, roles which really showcase his acting skills. Wittiness complemented by a character that has both depth and complexity.
RJ Balaji managed to make fun of Vishal (with the famous Aambala scene) and T Rajendar’s famous speech during Puli’s audio launch. There’s also Motta Rajendran and a grandfather, Rahul. Both are uber cool and up-to-date with technology. And what’s a good entertainer without some Vijay and Ajith (Therikka Vidalama?) references? You got it.
Naanum Rowdy Dhaan is quirky. Vijay Sethupathi’s room is filled with neon painted lines like: Teasing people through prank calls (RJ Balaji’s famous cross talk show) – Rs.25,000; Hand Breaking – Rs.10,000; and Leg Breaking – 15,000. It goes on.
Geroge C William’s cinematography definitely shows Pondicherry in a new light. And Anirudh Ravichandran’s BGM and song placements complement the film’s theme perfectly.
Final thoughts: if you’re looking for a good laugh, for Rs.120, then Naanum Rowdy Dhaan is your film. It has a nice story, neat screenplay, minimal drama, and great comedy.
The Naanum Rowdy Dhaan Review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have an advertising relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.