‘NPNET’ directed by Dinesh Selvaraj a Maniratnam protégé has a lot going for it as a new age film. There is absolutely no female character, the story telling follows the minimalist style and the line of a cowardly and weepy lead character who turns the tables on his stronger opponents sounds interesting. The end product, however, fails to match up.
Prabhu (Debutante Prabhu) is the son of an honest cop who has just lost his elder brother in an accident. He is disillusioned by his father’s simple life and sets his eyes on making some quick money to go to Malaysia.
His late brother’s friends Anil (Karthikeyan), Sridhar (Evansri) and Johnny (Jagadeesh ) lure him into a series of small time crimes and in one such incident when Prabhu is given the job of safely carrying looted money of 5Lakhs he loses it. The gang gives him one week to return the money or face dire consequences.
The cowardly Prabhu, after hiding from their sights for many days comes up with a plan to capitalize on the friendship his dad has with a billionaire and what happens next is the rest of the screenplay.
Prabhu as the wimp is quite convincing and though his repeated weeping in the scenes irritate after a point it is justified in the climax. Karthikeyan as the head of the gang takes his job seriously and fixes a permanent villain stare and stiff body language which at times is ineffective as the others around him give the impression they are rehearsing for a school play.
The two other gang members Evansri and Jagadeesh are ok. Television comedian George appears in the role of a schizophrenic vagabond and ironically scores in garnering sympathy but fails to evoke laughter. Arul Jothi as the upright policeman is apt.
The films only plus is it justifies its title in the climax and minuses include a badly written screenplay and uninspired performances.
Navin and Beon Surrao are credited with the music and most of the BGM sound like stock tracks cut and paste from some other film. Cinematographer A.T. Bhagath Singh shot most of the film in available light and has innovated by adapting the angles of CCTV footage of crimes and follows the pattern throughout the film which suits the narration.
But at the same time the rather unengaging script allows the viewers to notice the low production values. Editor XavierThilak has done a fair job in assembling the quirky shots as whole scenes and regularly employs the jerk cuts unsuccessfully to speed up proceedings. The legendary ‘Annakili’ and ‘Alaipayuthe’ Selvaraj is credited as co-writer which may be a plus for the project but dampener for his fans.
Selvaraj’s son Dinesh Selvaraj making his directorial debut has attempted to give a non-linear crime thriller, but has sadly not focused on the fact that a strong script and well etched characters can bring out the best performances from his cast and also engage the viewer. Better luck next time.
Verdict : Go for it if only to encourage a crowd funded experimental film with made minimum resources.