With its cast of fresh faces in the lead and a debutant director at the helm, Neram (a bilingual in Tamil, Malayalam) is a comic-action flick, a genre popular in recent times. It revolves around the premise that when time is favourable, everything falls into place; but during ‘bad time’, trouble hounds you. Vetri faces one such bad day, where nothing seems to go right for him.
Neram opens with a quote of Tarantino’s famous line, “I steal from every movie ever made.” Weaved around Vetri is a bunch of myriad characters with their independent episodes. These intersect at various points with the rest, as a jobless Vetri (Nivin) goes through his series of mishaps on that day. He had to meet his girlfriend Veni (Nazriya) who ran away from home. And he had to repay his loan to ‘Vatti’ Raja, who was merciless with defaulters. But with events spiralling out of control, Vetri gets deeper into trouble.
Alphonse’s characters are colourful, the actors getting their space and fitting in well. Like the flashy ruthless loan shark ‘Vatti’ Raja (played splendidly by Simha of Soodu Kavvum); the boorish cop Katte (John Vijay); Manik (Anantnag) the spoilt sibling of a bigwig (Nasser); and petty thief Lighthouse (Ramesh) and his cronies. It’s appreciable that the debutant director (has some short films and music videos to his credit) has meticulously packaged in so many characters and episodes within a span of 117 minutes.
The lines are sparkling at times, and there are some hilarious moments. Like the technically illiterate Raja’s comment on the expensive mobile phone of his sidekick. And Nasser’s brief episode at the hospital, the actor in his elements. It’s a humorous finale, where all of Raja’s debtors get connected in their revellery at the fate of the loan shark.
The music (debutant Rajesh Murugesan) is peppy, the ‘Pistha.....’ number with it’s nonsensical lyrics already a rage. Nivin Pauly (a popular rising actor of Malayalam screen) is likeable as Vetri, and gives the right expressions. Nazriya (from Malayalam TV and films) a promising find, is sure to go places.
But the screenplay has glitches. Too many problems seem to be piling on Vetri, some of them contrived. Also, the director depends on too many co-incidences to move his narration forward. While a few fit in naturally, others seem forced in. Further, the director’s habit of repeating earlier scenes is distracting. While a few revisits are relevant as it shows the moments in a new perspective, others seem to serve no purpose. The film could have done with more coherence in screenplay, and a more natural linking between its various episodes. Also, its humour quotient too is not as effective, and there are some dry moments.
Comic-action flicks with dark humour have gone down well with the audience in recent times (Pizza, Soodhu Kavvum). Neram may not have reached that level of entertainment. But the light, interesting narrative style and quirky characters makes it a pleasant one-time watch.