‘Nerkonda Paarvai’ vs ‘Pink’: No Means No Becomes a Punch Dialogue
Nerkonda Paarvai is the Tamil remake of Pink, starring Ajith Kumar in Amitabh Bachchan’s role. Shraddha Srinath and Abirami Venkatachalam play the roles of Taapsee Pannu and Kirti Kulhari respectively. Andrea Tariang reprises her role in the Tamil remake as well. Political talk show host and TV celebrity Rangaraj Pandey plays Piyush Mishra’s role, as the advocate who stands for the accused.
Directed by H Vinoth who cemented his presence as someone who could tell layered stories, with a brilliant debut in Sathuranga Vettai (2014), followed up with Theeran Adhigaram Ondru (2017).
Movie vs Movie
Nerkonda Paarvai begins with a song. There’s a prolonged fight sequence with Ajith that ends at the interval, and there’s another song in between, after the first ‘incident’. Ajith speaks only in ‘punch dialogues’ all through the first half.
Pink is a film with a powerful message. One of consent, and of unsolicited moral judgement. What matters in a remake, is not how it’s been copied frame by frame. The real question is whether the message is conveyed equally powerfully. The answer, is a resounding YES.
The story is as nuanced in Tamil as it is in Hindi. There is drama in the courtroom, and Rangaraj Pandey’s hamming doesn’t pull the audience away from the plot. And in the end - as with Shraddha’s voice over, the statutory anti-smoking message right at the beginning - the message remains clear, and free of the strappings of a masala film.
Ajith vs Amitabh
In January this year, Ajith Kumar’s Viswasam released on the same day Rajinikanth’s Petta hit the screens. Both films did equally well across Tamil Nadu. That’s sufficient evidence of star power.
Ajith also has a surprisingly impeccable record - both on and off screen - free of misogyny, across a career that spans almost three decades. There’s proof that he’s the apt casting choice. Because he’s much younger than Amitabh and still able to perform his bike and car stunts, the fight sequence in Nerkonda Paarvai doesn’t seem off. He brings in a sense of righteous anger into his role, as opposed to a more staid Amitabh. As far as performances go, Amitabh, as an actor is way above Ajith. But in this film, for this role, Ajith’s genuineness shines through. It is occasionally brighter than his charisma.
The Women vs The Women
Shraddha and Abirami essay the roles of Taapsee and Kirti from the original in Nerkonda Paarvai. Their performances were nuanced, genuine and consistent. Despite the fact that the story has already been told; that most of the scenes are frame-to-frame facsimiles, the performances hook you in. Andrea Tariang too delivers an equally vulnerable performance. Her difficulty with Tamil only made her character more endearing.
Rangaraj Pandey vs Piyush Mishra
Rangaraj Pandey is a popular journalist and talk show host on prime time television in Tamil Nadu. He shot to fame through incendiary interviews of high profile guests, who are grilled, and yet return for more. Pandey talks as fast as Piyush Mishra, and eventually is as unlikeable towards the end of the film, and I mean this as a compliment. For a debut, it is a decent effort, marred by his difficulty with dubbing.
A Necessary Tale
Like with Pink, Nerkonda Paarvai has turned out to be a necessary tale. One that breaks assumptions about women, ‘culture’ and decency, and stares back at the male gaze. And of course, thanks to Ajith, ‘No means no’, is now a ‘punch’ dialogue.
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