'Navarasa' anthology review: Some shorts achieve brilliance, some are average
The biggest figures of the Tamil film industry came together to explore the Indian aesthetic theory of nine emotions or nava rasa in the latest Netflix anthology Navarasa. Produced/presented by Mani Ratnam and Jayendra Panchapakesan to help those in the Tamil cinema fraternity affected by the COVID-19 crisis, the over five-hour project offers a mixture of brilliant and average end products. Here's our review.
Revathi is striking in the opening short 'Edhiri'
Bejoy Nambiar's Edhiri (Enemy) opens the anthology, portraying compassion. Armed with actors like Revathi, Prakash Raj, and Vijay Sethupathi, this one is merely a fine piece. Underlying motifs of guilt, revenge, and conscience are commendable, but a misplaced sense of eeriness envelopes it. Revathi's performance is striking. Yogi Babu-led piece on humor (Summer of 92), written-directed by Priyadarshan, is engaging and expectedly fun.
Karthik Subbaraj's 'Peace' might be the shortest but impacts most
Karthik Subbaraj's Peace is the shortest piece (28 minutes) in the anthology, and in contrast to its title, the most anxiety-inducing one. Set around the struggles of Tamil Eelams, this one is going to keep you on the edge. Sarjun's Thunintha Pin (Beyond Courage) also concerns a similar struggle (focused on Naxalites), but it's seen from another perspective. However, this fails to take flight.
Arvind Swami's 'Roudhram' is bone-chilling, impactful; AR Rahman's music wins
Another brilliant piece is Arvind Swami's Roudhram (Anger). Be it the story, or acting performances (especially by Riythvika and Ramesh Thilak), or the ending, the Dear Dad actor could have easily made a feature film out of it. AR Rahman's music masterly captures the mood, symbolism, and situational needs of the short. Watch out for the powerful "girls are like gold" analogy!
Parvathy Thiruvothu-Siddharth enact elements of fear, sin, punishment perfectly
Swami has also acted in the sci-fi piece Project Agni, directed by Karthick Naren. Apart from a novel theme, this short keeps you guessing as a scientist in the pursuit of the subconscious trusts a friend with a dangerous secret. Fear is but the "nonacceptance of uncertainty". This is perfectly captured in Rathindran Prasad's Inmai, starring Parvathy Thiruvothu-Siddharth. Vishal Bhardwaj's music is hauntingly good.
Suriya-starrer mediocre piece on 'love' concludes the anthology
Expectations were huge from Suriya and director Gautham Vasudev Menon's reunion after 12 years. Suriya and Prayaga Martin's promotional pictures had also gone viral earlier. But Guitar Kambi Mele Nindru is a mediocre attempt at best. Inferences to Begin Again and La La Land are drawn, but music by Karthik is the only saving grace. Thooriga is seriously a gift to the industry.
Definitely give it a watch, the anthology gets 3.5 stars
Earlier, Panchapakesan had noted that finding the right story for "disgust" had taken the longest. Quashing worries, Vasanth Sai handles T Janakiraman's story on a human being's illogical disgust, Payasam, ably and subtly. Overall, every piece on the anthology deserves a view. Navarasa gets 3.5/5.
Stars didn't take any salary, revenue distributed among cine-body members
#Navarasa revenue goes directly to 10,500+ FEFSI members and 1,000+ theatre projectionists.— Manobala Vijayabalan (@ManobalaV) August 5, 2021
Beneficiaries get ₹1,500 per month on the prepaid card for a period of six months.
The stars who worked in the anthology didn't take any salary.