Yes. You read it right. Narasimha is clearly distinct from, and superior to, most of its contemporaries belonging to various genres. That its part of the folklore for many tamil film connoisseurs, highlights its merit. This is my appreciation of the movie which kinda culminated its genre. The reader must have to understand the breadth of possibilities in cinema as a medium to understand my appreciation of the movie.
Narasimha is a no mean achievement. Regardless of what the critics would like to believe [check this insipid review; I still wonder how the reviewer gives some points to the movie even though he has completely failed to get hold of the spirit of the movie], this is one of the most creative efforts that has come in tamil cinema in recent times and the best secret agent movie to have come in tamil cinema. Pity that the director, Mr. Thirupathisamy, had to die before giving us more such movies.
The so-called intelligent audience, in search of "logic" (I hate the word) and "intellect", to assure themselves that the story is realistic enough and could happen to them on a series of dull and insipid days be theirs as well, would not be able to gauge the amount of inventiveness employed in this movie.
Just because a movie stars an aged, fat, not-so-good-looking actor doesn't mean that one should put down the movie straight away. Why don't we talk about realism in this case? Aren't real cops/secret agents old enough that they can't shake their hips as much as a Mallika Sherawat can? But that, anyway, is NOT the point. In fact, much far from it [and all the talk about fat cops is just my attempt at being neutral to a Vijayakanth starrer]. After all, realism is not the movie's key point. In fact, its humour. I am no Vijayakanth fan. But his performance here really takes the movie to an altogether superior and surreal plane. To claim that he had no sense of humour in the making of the movie is very very hard to believe. The same can be said about every other actor/actress in the movie. What an ensemble cast it was! One careless/less serious actor could have introduced a boring moment in this piece de resistance (A special mention about Venu Aravind, here in a blink-and-you-ll-miss role, who with his deadpan serious face really rocked). In fact, the whole cast look very very serious and still are very very funny (definitely reminds me of Kamal Haasan's claim about Mumbai Xpress; still I would say watching this movie once could have given him more ideas) thus making each of their expressions, intonations all suggestive and subtle. And the writer/director knew exactly where/when/how to cut from one scene to another to give the exact effect and strike the perfect chord, so that the whole first hour of the movie plays like some gung-ho music (Why the hell did I have to leave the house coz of which I am yet to watch the full movie? Though, I will complete it soon).
And what was Vadivelu doing in this movie, bringing down the level of humour and wit? Was a crass comedy track even necessary in such an ambitious effort? Same for the stretched action sequences. There has been a clear underestimation, from the director's side, of the script's merit that he had to go for such commercial compromises.
This might have featured in the elite list of overlooked tamil films along with, Thirupachi [another stunner, put down for the simple reason that it doesn't have a poignant/believable story or understated performances; this was India's answer to Kill Bill, Silence of the Lambs and Taxi Driver all rolled into one, with its visceral depiction of violence; and an analysis of this will be the next to watch in this space], only if Ebert chose to go for an all-Indian list. Anyway, when was the audience smart enough to understand movies in Brechtian format?
Coming up next in this series:
1. Kill Bill, Silence of the Lambs and Taxi Driver all rolled into one - Thirupachi
2. Let us B!! - An analysis of the Rajini's blockbuster movies
P.S.:- This post has been modified since it was first published (on 11 July 2005). Sarcasm, if you find any, in this particular post is clearly a figment of imagination from the reader's side and has got nothing to do with my honest intentions.