NedunalVaadai - Emotionally engaging and well made rural drama!!!
Grandfather-grandson is not a bonding that has been at the core of many films. Debutant director Selvakannan's Nedunalvaadai is an ode to his real life grandfather (this is revealed in the post credits) and is possibly inspired by real events for the most part. The authenticity shows on screen and we are sucked into the film right from the first frame. The film starts with the grandfather character being hospitalized and we are then shown the events that transpired from the late 90s to this date.
For such an emotionally charged film, the performance of the actors is the key and Nedunalvaadai makes use of some excellent performances led by 'Poo' Ramu. His name appears first in the starting credits of Nedunalvaadai and rightly so. After some wonderful performances in the recent past, this is a film that he carries on his shoulders with aplomb. His poise in the emotional sequences is brilliant. Following closely is debutant Anjali Nair who plays a feisty lover and displays a wide range of emotions. The entire cast does a very good job. It is Elvis Alexander who might look a bit subdued but it goes well with the character he plays.
The film is extremely well made. The music and cinematography capture the landscape and mood perfectly. Nothing looks out of place. The problems for the love angle too seem reasonable and is not about caste. The question from the girl's family is how can an unemployed guy guarantee a secure future for her.The conflicts are relatable and there are no forced surprises. And what stands out is that despite being an emotional film there is no melodrama in Nedunalvaadai. The runtime too is crisp. But I would have liked to know more about how Elango managed to stay away from his family for 8 long years with no communication. Of course there is justification for him staying away but how did he actually cope up emotionally during this time is what I wanted to know. But the plot is primarily about his grandfather and hence you understand why the director has kept it this way.
Selvakannan is an able filmmaker and makes excellent use of the visual medium. You are captivated to the screen even when it is just two people walking a certain distance. The day to day activities of the rustic milieu are captured with a certain aesthetics that leaves you wanting for more.It is never about the story but how something is shown and narrated on screen that defines cinema and by that yardstick Nedunalvaadai is good cinema and Selvakannan is someone to watch out for.
NedunalVaadai is an engrossing rural drama aided by powerful performances. The absence of melodrama makes it all the more worthwhile.