The past three weeks have consecutively seen policewomen on the Tamil screen. In Thittam Irandu, Aishwarya Rajesh, in khakis for most part of the film, tries to trace her missing friend. The script’s idea of a female cop was comically bizarre, and as a consequence, Rajesh never flourishes.
Riythvika as Anbu in Arvind Swamy’s Rowthiram – part of the anthology series Navarasa – has an aggressive streak in uniform. While it is therapized in the course of the film, the young Anbu was far more rounded as a character than her older self who cannot step out of the singular expression she has been assigned.
In Netrikann too, Nayanthara who plays a visually-impaired ex-cop, does not have a range of emotions to draw from. She is subdued for the most part of the film. There is cause, of course.
We tend to get glimpses of the breadth of her abilities as a cop in exile, but a cop nevertheless. The script does not rely on a uniform to slap on the police label, and never resorts to forceful conversion. Unlike in the other two films, we can see faint visuals of the character in Nayanthara as Durga.
Here, we are made to believe that Durga used to be in the force – picking up on vital clues even at the loss of one of her senses. The minutiae that contribute to effective characterisation may perhaps not be attributed to the director entirely for this is a remake of the 2011 Korean film, Blind. Nayanthara however slips with ease into an authoritarian role- one that does not resort to noise or obligatory commands cast around in (feigned) indifference.
The script is also delightful in its irreverence. It doesn’t let Durga wallow in self-pity for long – and some of the funniest moments belong to Sharan Shakthi who plays Gautham, a witness to the hit-and-run incident, and Manikandan who plays a cop investigating the case.
In an instance, Gautham and Durga, also a witness, are engaged in a heated argument about the veracity of her statements. She yells in Tamil “Enakku theriyadha?” (Don’t you think I know?) to which Gautham responds in an equally angry tone, ‘Unaku theriyadhu!” (You can’t see!). We laugh because we cannot dispute the fact and neither can Durga.
As a thriller, Netrikann keeps us intrigued for a certain period of time: the nature of crime and the motive prima facie are clear. Women are kidnapped and sexually assaulted – the assaulter (Ajmal Ameer) is rich, we know, and has a den in house to enable his fantasies of bondage and dominance. He also exhibits traits of sadomasochism – all fifty shades without consent. Durga is the next woman on his radar, and she, along with Manikandan, have to outwit him to stay alive.
This premise would have been enough, really, to carry home a thriller of certain heft, but as always, the compulsive need for more ultimately runs the script down. We can still buy the motive of the assaulter- a gynaecologist unable to derive sexual gratification the regular way- but not the forced themes of abortion and morality that are thrust into the film.
In hindsight though, it can be said that these tropes exist just to have Nayanthara shoot them down later. It’s a cursory line to be sure, but for now, we can live with that.
This Netrikann 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 any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.