A gripping gangster movie, but not outstanding

A gripping gangster movie, but not outstanding
Highlights

After a series of duds like Kadali and Cheliya ace filmmaker Mani Ratnam returns with a gangster movie this time, but it doesnt boast of a novel plot but explores mans quest for money and power and how it can override even close relationships

After a series of duds like ‘Kadali’ and ‘Cheliya’ ace filmmaker Mani Ratnam returns with a gangster movie this time, but it doesn’t boast of a novel plot but explores man’s quest for money and power and how it can override even close relationships. Bhupathi Reddy (Prakash Raj) is a dreaded gangster who has most of the politicians and the police force in his pocket. His life is always under threat, yet in the very first scene in the movie, he’s sneaking out to a temple with his wife (Jaysudha) to celebrate his wedding anniversary. An attempt is made on his life and the couple land in hospital.

This gets his three sons together, with each of them getting good introduction sequences. Varada (Arvind Swami) is much like his father, indulging in extortion and leading the life of a rowdy. The second son, Thyagu (Arun Vijay), is in Dubai and doing well for himself, conducting business with the Arabs on a regular basis. Elsewhere, in Serbia, Rudra (Simbu) is dealing in the arms business, when he’s not out romancing Chaaya (Dayana).

Bhupathi Reddy’s ill-health gets the three of them together at home. The question on their minds: who tried to kill their father. Eventually, Prakash Raj passes away and the real drama kicks in. The brothers are at war, with each of them staking a claim to the name and fame their father left them. Mani Ratnam’s dexterity in tackling complicated relationships shines through here; he chisels his male leads with strong characterisation.

You think the three brothers are all against each other, but there’s a secret collaboration happening. You think Rasool (Vijay Sethupathy as a police officer) is just a bystander to all the events unfolding in front of him but he also has other shades in him. Unfortunately, another gangster Thyagarajan who is the arch rival to Bhupathi Reddy spits fire but his agenda doesn’t seem so explicit.

The second half of ‘Nawab’ builds some intricate dynamics between the characters set up in the first. Mani Ratnam’s films have always had meaty roles for its women characters, but in this film, barring Jyotika, the other three (Aishwarya Rajesh, Dayana Erappa and Aditi Rao Hydari) are left with little to do. That also probably explains relegating AR Rahman’s soundtrack mostly to the backdrop, with two numbers running in the background during a fight and an emotional sequence.

While the number of characters and pacing does pose a problem, the performances make up for it. While the three brothers breathe life into their respective characters, the film belongs to the understated Vijay Sethupathi, who plays Arvind Swami’s childhood friend. He plays to the gallery at times, and yet springs to life at crucial junctures.

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