Cast: Jyothika, GV Prakash Kumar, Ivana and Rockline Venkatesh
Naachiyaar is Bala’s most lightweight film, a moving drama that gives us a glimpse of this world through the eyes of two characters from the have-nots class of the society – played superbly by GV Prakash Kumar and newbie Ivana. Bala uses Jyothika – in a bad-ass, foul-mouthed cop avatar – as a fierce voice in the flawed system who has to resort to abuse of power to make her point. She interrogates a suspect first and then sits down for a chat.
Mostly known for his dark, tragic stories that leave audiences cringing in their seats, it’s refreshing to see Bala make a film that doesn’t make us squirm, never through the course of the film, as the story reaches the climax. This is probably his first film that ends on a positive, breathing hopes into the lives of the protagonists.
Naachiyaar is both a police procedural and a drama that reminds us how the upper class takes people below them for granted. There’s a lovely, thought-provoking commentary on those in power – people in khaki in the film – and how they’re thrown by those in the upper class.
The film is a welcome departure from the image Bala has set with his previous work. He also uses religions and communities as a metaphor to talk about the class divide. Quite early on, a scene that unfolds in the presence of a judge and a lawyer – both belonging to the forward class – is outright hilarious.
Jyothika is terrific as a no-nonsense cop, playing her part with gusto. She’s fierce, and doesn’t hesitate to slap to make a point. She warns a suspect to be not fooled by her skin color and good looks, for she can slit his throat. The only turn off about Jo’s character is her Tamil accent which comes across as very fake, despite her efforts to make it sound convincing.
Prakash turns in a career-best performance as a north Chennai boy who sells fruits for a living. Not only he looks his part – he looks three shades darker – he also aces the lingo and body language.