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<div class="paragraphs"><p>Nayanthara in <em>Netrikann</em>.</p></div>
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Review: Milind Rau's 'Netrikann' is a Nayanthara Showreel

Netrikann is streaming on Disney+Hotstar.

Published
Movie Reviews
4 min read

Review: Milind Rau's 'Netrikann' is a Nayanthara Showreel

Netrikann, the remake of South Korean thriller Blind and written and directed by Milind Rau, is a Nayanthara showreel. There is no perceptible reason to complain. As patronizing as it may seem to call her Lady Superstar and as varied as opinions are about her strengths as a performer, there is an unmatched thrill when a female star’s name flashes before the title of the film. If it never gets old for a male star, it is still fresh for Nayanthara, not necessarily the first of her kind. It is just that rare.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>A still from <em>Netrikann</em>.</p></div>

A still from Netrikann.

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

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Milind Rau’s film is designed to locate the star in every frame. She plays Durga, a visually impaired ex-CBI officer who grew up in an orphanage with an adopted brother Adithya. We are fed these details in a seemingly casual conversation in the first ten minutes, but it feels rushed because Rau’s film is in a hurry to get to the meaty parts. And who can complain? Its meaty parts keep us arrested more often than not. At least till about three quarters of the film.

Durga is a tailor-made role for a star vehicle. She is at once well-equipped to be an action star, but her disability makes her an underdog in every situation.

The writer or the director breaks no sweat in making us care or root for her for it is our human instinct to do so. As if that isn’t enough, Netrikann has the kind of antagonist – played by Ajmal Ameer – whose very presence troubles us and his crimes all too heinous.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>A still from <em>Netrikann</em>.</p></div>

A still from Netrikann.

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

For the most part the film is a faithful remake of Blind. The major details and the plot level events remain the same with some shades added to couple of characters. Manikandan (Manikandan) is a sub-inspector who cannot catch a break, even those below his rank think of him as a liability. The twain meet, Durga almost gets abducted by Ajmal’s character posing as a taxi driver and as a case with only a visually impaired woman as witness, the other police officers are all too happy to dump it on Manikandan. For a while, Netrikann becomes a buddy cop film, Durga with her set of Sherlockian skills and Manikandan with the authority that his uniform provides better than his head. The film uses modern gadgets in impressive ways, a stretch from a hospital to a metro station to a mall is filmed with the right amount of edginess to keep us glued. We trust Durga aka Nayanthara to come out unscathed but how? A motion sensor makes for a great Chekhov’s gun.

Netrikann can be funny when it wants to. When Durga meets with a lead, she puts sunglasses in the dark to hide her impairment. The lead wonders and says, “Mysskin thangachi ah nee?”. That’s a genuine laugh out loud moment not just for the way it is delivered but also because Netrikann can be a poor man’s Mysskin film. Much of the film takes place at night and with hardly a soul populating the streets.

Though Rau cannot get close to the beauty of Mysskin’s frames of a city in darkness, he does manage to evoke the suspense in the important scenes.

There is Christ imagery and even a top angle shot of a flyover to begin the film. Not just that, both the hero and the villain narrate a fable of a lamb and a fox (not wolf!). Nayanthara’s star turns are delayed just enough to keep us guessing only to surprise us with a fist of fury. The first time she meets and attacks Ajmal the taxi driver is delightful in its unpreparedness.

Durga is driven by both the outrageous nature of the crimes and a guilt that constantly creeps within her. To have her mouth some progressive lines, Netrikann pads the crimes and gives the perpetrator a backstory. For a moment the film can turn into a rape-revenge saga that is unable to let go of the genre trappings when it comes to matters of retribution. This is not as egregious as Rau’s tendency to stretch the lone wolf narrative. Netrikann goes beyond its conceivable runtime and after ninety minutes the rinse-repeat cat and mouse chase gets tiring. It also gets unintentionally funny. How did these police officers, searching for kidnapped women in a BDSM loving creep’s lair, send for women officers after finding the women?

Netrikann is streaming on Disney+Hotstar.

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