Monday, 17 December 2018

Naangaam Vidhi: Yeah, that's why it happens

Sci-fi genre has always worked out better in short-films than a feature. Maybe people do not want to spend a long time to watch a movie like 24, and they prefer a film on the smaller screen that runs for just, say, 24 minutes.

Apparently, it is also a fact that when the run-time is less, we'll have a more engaging screenplay - if and only if the details of the plot-points are enough to substantiate the science elements dealt in the screenplay. When I happened to watch my close-friend and aspiring filmmaker Anu Sathya's sci-fi pilot-short film 'Naangaam Vidhi', I felt the same.

Before the screening that happened last weekend (Dec 9, 2018) at Sathyam Cinemas, Anu was like, 'romba kaluvi oothiraatha', which I never do for movies from a debutante or an upcoming filmmaker. Also, when it comes to short films, I have restricted myself from commenting on the technicalities, considering the budget involved in the making. But, to my surprise, Naangaam Vidhi was brilliant in all ways.

Until I watched this 33-minute flick, I never knew Newton proposed laws on philosophical contexts. And this film is based on Newton's fourth law of philosophy. This rule says, any law of physics is open to future correction or improvement or in simpler words, you've to accept that what you figured out as the truth until someone else proves you wrong. Thanks to Yahoo Answers, btw.

From this very statement, the writer establishes that the upcoming half-an-hour can either be a science-fiction or a science-fantasy until it is proved.

There have been a number of films about one or many dreams coming true. Screenplays that take Extra Sensory Perception to the crux of their narration usually have this day-dream or night-mare happening in real-life stories. Anu's idea is the same, but different. Let me not get much into the plot to spill the beans, but the way in this, film a dream that comes to life is a bit new. At least to me.

Though I'm not a big fan of such improbable content, I have always admired at the way the content is narrated, like 100aavthu Naal by filmmaker Manivannan, or the Final Destination series - I have watched them some n number of times for the way ESP is made use of in the screenplay. Naangaam Vidhi, too, does have a strong screen-writing with so many details. Not even once, I felt the details are imposed or overloaded, except for the number of times the same theory was re-explained by the psychiatrist, who as well, the lead male played by Ramjhee. If there is some trimming at these parts, the 33-minute could really be shortened to the aforesaid 24 minutes - just saying, LoL.

However, once the plot gets unfolded after all the protagonists fall on the same page, the narration gets even pacier. And, the sound design and background score in this part, where they 'decode' their dreams, are so pivotal that they almost bear aloft the essence of the scene.

There are quite a few surprise elements that are filled all the way through the screenplay. At instances where we feel like 'what next?' or 'okay, it's the end, finally', Naangaam Vidhi surprises us with a new turn. From there the colour changes. There is also a strong decision from the side of the writers. Despite having a male-lead in the film, he is not made as the usual protagonist. The protagonists are different from the male lead, who has no prominence in the screenplay after the first 20 minutes of the movie. That's really a smart move. In fact, we are not even shown him after a point on the screen.

Until his presence in the narration, Ramjhee drives it well with some contemporary mannerisms for a psychiatrist like rotating a fidget-spinner. Also, it was so good to see him after a very long time in such an intense role and his generosity to get side-lined in the climax.

The USP of this ESP story is that it is not just about the ESP. Though Anu has followed the conventional cinematic-trend of ending this in a socially responsible way, there are enough justifications to that. And, with this ending, the movie takes a transition from a fictional to a real psychological connection that becomes more significant for the current societal scenarios.

For this transition, there are explanations and character establishments since the beginning. Those scenes, for me, seemed to be little dramatic and unnecessary. When the need of that gets unrevealed by filling a missing letter in the climax I was taken back. The director and editor have ensured that no scene goes unimportant for a tight-packed screenplay.

Even though there are about eight main characters, there is enough space for every one of them to show-off. The two instances the reporter locks horns with a stranger for a camera have been a boon for both the artistes to emote as much as they want. The character extension of the stranger is also followed up well in both the sequences. Of all, my favourite was the roles of the transgender, which was actually played by a male-artiste, and the role of the mysterious guy seen in the dream. Hope he soon, becomes a real dream-boy, just for his photogenic look and subtle acting traits.

When watching this film, you will, in some scenes, do a facepalm with a question 'why should this happen at all?'. Eventually, Naangaam Vidhi gives a pause and replies in a couple of scenes later, 'that's why'. And, you have to believe it until it is proved, says, not me, but Newton.

Not just because it was my friend's film, but I really admired this. And I wish the cast and crew's 'dream come true' and soon see them in bigger banners.

- Santhosh Mathevan,
Chennai, December 17, 2018.

Watch it here:

This viewer's note is completely based on the perceptions of Santhosh Mathevan alone. This does not reflect the views of two or more people or a community. Queries and criticism shall be addressed to the writer only.