Film: "Naan Than Bala"; Cast: Vivekh, Swetha, Venkatraj, Cell Murugan, Sounder, Lavanya and Sujatha; Director: R. Kannan; Rating: **1/2
The fate of a good intentioned film sans the elements of entertainment always lies in the hands of the audiences. It's extremely difficult to judge the pulse of the viewers nowadays because they're exposed to all kinds of cinema - from regular commercial material to art house and independent films.
A highly-anticipated film can turn out to be a dud and the most unexpected low-budget movie can rake in the moolah. Vivekh-starrer "Naan Than Bala", which dares to explore an uncharted territory, faces a similar fate at the box office as it doesn't feature all the necessary elements to please the entertainment deprived audiences of Tamil cinema.
Stepping out of his comfort zone as a comedian, Vivekh dons a very serious role of that of a temple priest in the film.
When Poochi, a man Bala has never met in his life, comes forth to help him free his aged father from jail for a crime he never committed, he decides to spend the rest of his life in his service. Bala believes Poochi is the reincarnation of god and it is his duty to serve him till his last breath.
But Poochi is a paid assassin, one who has murdered many for a price and helped Bala free his father from the money he received for killing someone. Bala confronts Poochi and convinces him to surrender to police by turning approver and turn against his boss.
When most comedians are turning heroes to cash in on their popularity, Vivekh attempts to inspire his fans with his earnest effort. With utmost sincerity and dedication, he transforms into a priest, recites shlokas in impeccable Sanskrit and still has his sense of humour intact and uses it occasionally in the film.
We see the best of Vivekh in "Naan Than Bala" that we haven't witnessed in a very long time, not even in his most successful comic roles. He makes us root for the actor who has been concealed under the comedian in him for ages.
The problem is not with Vivekh's decision to don a serious role, but the film's treatment of the subject at hand. Some of the important dialogues are not in sync with the present era, while the melodrama reminds us of television serials as it makes you sympathetic but fails to strike an emotional chord deep within. The use of Sanskrit verses more often in the film is also a turn off because audiences seldom appreciate its intent. Also, the reference to the tale from Mahabharat comes too late when it should have ideally been used to develop the film's story from the beginning.
Despite Vivekh's noteworthy performance, the movie suffers overall because of its sluggish narrative and mediocre performances by the rest of the cast. No matter how hard Vivekh tried to shoulder the film singlehandedly, it fails to keep us hooked when other actors take the center stage and perform poorly.
Shoddy writing and direction makes "Naan Than Bala" a boring film despite good intention.