SYNOPSIS: The driver of a Metro water lorry and a girl in the locality he supplies water to fall in love. But will the girl’s family, which has powerful connections, agree to this match?
REVIEW: The first thing that strikes you about Nagarvalam is how much it depends on the songs of Ilaiyaraaja to make us buy the romance between Kumar and Janani. He is a Metro water lorry driver and she lives in the locality where he supplies water. She is also the kind of girl who has posters of her idol in her room; in this case, it is Ilaiyaraaja. And this gives Markx an excuse to punctuate the background score with Ilaiyaraaja songs. No wonder the maestro has become very particular about copyright.
And, this approach was novel a decade ago, at the time of Subramaniapuram. Now, it has become routine. And that is how the film, too, feels. Its romance, between a girl whose family has powerful connections and a boy beneath their status, is something that is very familiar. And the climax, whose outcome is signified by portentous clouds, doesn’t really jolt us because we have had quite a few such endings post Kaadhal. Perhaps this is why Markx tries hard and gives us a climactic reveal that his audience cannot guess. It doesn’t help that we get routine characters like the hero’s friend who eggs him on, and comedians who try to make us laugh by getting drunk.
That said, Markx tries to make all this feel new by adding a touch of unpredictability to some of these characters. Janani’s brother, Karuna, a gangster, is the scourge of his father Ramalingam, a librarian. But Ramalingam doesn’t mind using him, the muscle of his politician brother Dharmalingam, to tell off Kumar. Karuna, meanwhile, is conflicted (at least initially) about what he has to do — be the dutiful son or the doting brother. And Dharmalingam sees this as an opportunity to play politics. Then there is Karuna’s right hand, Maari, whose intentions and loyalties are unclear.
This results in some of the portions in the second half creating dread, like the stretch involving Janani and Ramalingam after the latter has found out about his daughter’s romance. On the surface, their conversation seems usual, but beneath it, we can sense a bomb waiting to explode. The film needed more such tense moments than ones like the forced drama that we get at the interval point.