Cast: Jayaram, Padmapriya, Sharada
Retro journeys on celluloid always evoke nostalgic memories. And director Jayaraj’s new offering ‘Nayika’ definitely has some such moments in it. Right from the vintage drama songs ‘Ambili Ammava Thamara Kumbililenthundu,’ ‘Marivillin Thenmalare’ to classic songs like ‘Kasturi Manakkunnallo,’ Kayampoo Kannil Viriyum’ and from the rivalry between Udaya and Merryland Studios to the suicide of actor Vijayasree.
But one may wonder why, with all these nostalgic ingredients, ‘Nayika’ fails to impress and ends as an average flick! The major setback is the lack of a proper platform to place the characters, be it Sharada’s Gracy, Jayaram’s Anand, Sidhique’s Stephen Muthalali and Mamta Mohandas’ Aleena.
The first three characters have resemblance to some prominent figures who ruled the Malayalam industry once but it is slightly twisted.
Jayaram lends the gestures and mannerisms of the late Prem Nazir to his character, and since imitating Nazir is his masterpiece as a mimicry artiste, it really came out well. But with the absence of a strong script, all the characters ended up as bygones and at many points, were left clueless.
Scriptwriter Deedi Damodaran, who made a promising debut through ‘Gulmohar,’ knitted a tale by placing the mystery behind the death of actress Vijayasree in the centre. The actress, who was known as the Marilyn Monroe of Mollywood, committed suicide following an incident while shooting for the movie ‘Ponnapuram Kotta’.
While enacting a scene in a waterfall, her dress was removed accidentally and the cameraman continued with the shooting. Her image appeared in the nude in the film and it is said that the hurt actress committed suicide following the incident.
Though the Vijayasree incident is the core of the movie, it unfolds from the perspective of another yesteryear actor Gracy. With references like three-time National Award winner and recreating scenes from ‘Thulabharam,’ one can easily understand that it is Sharada herself.
Sharada’s story is added with elements of fiction and the movie starts with an aspiring filmmaker Aleena approaching Gracy to make a documentary about her. Though Gracy is in a mentally-challenged state, Aleena succeeds in interacting with her with the help of the actress’ personal assistant Rangannan (Jagathy).
Travelling through the memories of Gracy comes Padampriya (depicting the youth of Gracy) and her relationship with actor Anand. Kudos to Jayaraj for casting Padmapriya as young Gracy. Her beauty and acting skills helped in portraying the role to perfection and ‘young Gracy’ ends as the saving ‘grace’ of the film.
Apart from these references to the past, Deedi’s script fails to blend all these characters together into the plot. The director, apart from following the script, has not tried anything extraordinary leaving the spectator indifferent in the end.
If director Ranjith’s ‘Thirakkatha’ - a recent Malayalam film that narrated a tale from the 1980s Mollywood - was a serene and haunting experience, ‘Nayika,’ which could have been made crispier – has failed to reveal its truest possible form at its best.