Chennai, 07 Oct 2018 3:37 IST
Director Anand Shankar seems to have squandered a good idea. Though the film is interesting in parts, it could have been much more so.
Telugu star Vijay Deverakonda makes his debut in Tamil with this much-awaited political thriller, titled NOTA.
The film is a decent political thriller that is interesting in parts. Varun (Deverakonda), son of chief minister Vinodan (Nassar), believes in living it up. The youngster, who works in London for a gaming firm, occasionally comes to India to meet the children of an orphanage he has adopted and also to meet his stepsister, who is just a child.
Like on any other birthday, Varun parties hard with friends and is on his way back home in an inebriated state when he is chased by the police. Wondering if they are going to arrest him for drunken driving, he stops. The cops are not there to arrest him. Instead, they tell him that he will be taking over as the chief minister the next morning. Before the stunned man realizes what is happening, he finds himself bang in the middle of a political minefield, sworn in as the new chief minister.
The decision to make Varun, who has no interest in politics, chief minister has been made by his father. Vinodan has deep faith in a religious guru and always acts in accordance with his advice. He seeks a solution from the guru for the corruption case filed against him for buying air-conditioned public buses at an inflated cost.
The guru advises Vinodan to quit office for a while and make someone else from his family the chief minister. If he does that, Vinodan would be able to tide over the crisis and reclaim power shortly, the guru says. As a result, Vinodan hurriedly makes Varun the chief minister.
Although Varun takes the oath of office, his father, a ruthless and unscrupulous politician, makes it clear that he is not to do anything. "Just stay in your room and do not come out. All that you want will be provided to you there. Just sign what the officials want you to sign. That's all," he tells Varun, who is more than happy to oblige.
Two weeks pass. Varun continues to play the dummy CM while his father continues to wait for the court verdict. It comes and, unfortunately for Vinodan, he is pronounced guilty and sent to prison.
Meanwhile, Varun, who was meant to be chief minister for only two weeks, is left with no choice but to continue being the dummy CM. His party cadres try to get his father out of prison on bail. While they are busy with that, Varun decides to show a side of his personality that he has not displayed before. He decides to get down to work.
When some administrative problems crop up, Varun, a conscientious man, cannot turn a blind eye. He decides to stop being the dummy CM and resolves issues with such swiftness and force that the opposition calls him a rowdy CM. Luckily, the public like his unorthodox methods and what was meant to be an insult becomes a compliment.
The rowdy CM has his job cut out. On the one hand, he has to discipline his partymen. On the other, he has to fight the vicious opposition leader Varadarajan and his manipulative daughter Kayal. Then there are others with whom his father had links but who now plan to eradicate not just his father but his entire family, including Varun. With only Mahendran (Sathyaraj), an honest veteran journalist who is a big critic of his father, to guide him, the rowdy CM overcomes all the challenges. How he does that is what NOTA is all about.
The film has many sequences based on real-life political developments in Tamil Nadu and these are told in a humorous or sarcastic manner. For instance, there is a sequence that resembles the horse-trading that took place among AIADMK legislators to form the government in Tamil Nadu. Similarly, there is a sequence based on the 2015 flood in Chennai. During the flood, the government opened sluice gates of dams in the region without warning those residing in low-lying areas, resulting in a number of people drowning. The incident in the film is slightly different. But the sequences showcase the sad state of affairs in the state and are also entertaining.
However, the film, by and large, does not work, for two primary reasons. The first is the poor performances from the artistes, who don't seem to own the characters they play. Most of the characters and developments in the film look and feel artificial. Take the bus-burning incident. It looks like a bus used in Andhra Pradesh is being passed off as a vehicle owned by the Chennai Metropolitan Transport Corporation. And the decisions the characters make in the film are laughable. For instance, when violence breaks out in the city and parents are rushing to pick their wards up from school, a mother asks her daughter's teacher to send her child with her neighbour's son.
The second reason is that director Anand Shankar fails to tie up the loose ends by the time the film ends. For instance, a murder case is slapped against chief minister Varun by the CBI. The situation is such that the DGP asks him to go into hiding for a couple of days as he believes the CBI could arrest Varun. However, there is no mention of the case or what happened to it after that. There are many such instances in the film.
Vijay Deverakonda struggles to fit this role. For the first 20 minutes, he is all at sea in the film. Then he makes an attempt to redeem himself but that only works partially. Mehreen Pirzada plays a blink-and-miss character.
Director Anand Shankar seems to have squandered a good idea. While the film is interesting in parts, it could have been much more so. Now, it appears that this NOTA will not win the public's trust.
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