NOTA Review: An underwhelming political drama
When Varun (Vijay Deverakonda) takes charge as the Chief Minister, his body language changes from that of a laid-back guy, a party enthusiast, to a commanding personality. He snaps fingers at MLAs and gives them orders, he addresses his security guards ‘Ae’. Our hero isn’t the dignified, well-behaved CM. He is a self-confessed Rowdy CM. Much like his on-screen PR-propaganda, director Anand Shankar’s NOTA too reflects this image.
Apart from serving as a platform to elevate/establish this image, NOTA is based on politics, in which dialogues and scenes based on real-life events. From the trending incident of Tamil Nadu’s MLAs being housed in a resort – to the restoration of the coovam, the film takes a dig at every relevant issues.
The story revolves around Varun (Vijay Deverakonda), an easy-go-lucky personality, who likes to party and spend time playing video games. Due to his father’s (Nasser) arrest, he is asked to take charge as the CM for a limited time. The rest of story centres around Varun, and his ability to steer the political scenario.
This brings us back to the theme of the film – politics. Film’s revolving around a political theme and a new chief minister, employ a set of troopers. Firstly, there are unexpected ways the protagonist becomes the CM, then the film shows his rise, his fall and finally his ability to bounce back effectively winning the hearts of the people. Although the film follows the pointers, there is nothing exciting or new to add to this. The lack of drama, intense subplots, and a convincing storytelling make it a disappointing affair.
Director Anand Shankar’s first film Arima Nambi made quite an impression with me. It travelled on a clear plot and was shot stunningly well. His second film, Iru Mugan didn’t quite hit the mark, and seemed bizarre and over stretched. Now, in his third film NOTA, the director seems to be in love with the idea that an underdog can become a CM and become victorious. Sure, there isn’t a problem when you this idea. The only thing that matters is, the route the CM takes to become a strong force. Which is clearly missing in this film.
I could not help but compare this to the year’s previous political-drama. Earlier this year, Telugu cinema produced Bharat Ane Nenu, directed by Koratala Siva, which won accolades. In the film, Mahesh Babu, the underdog becomes the CM, works hard to reform the corrupt and bring out a change in the society. He urged the less fortune to contest in elections, he condemned the rich to stop being greedy. He also juggled his political ambitions with his personal lode, while battling it out with the cunning and pretentious politician played by Prakash Raj. The point here is that the protagonist had conflicts to handle, and after he won them over, he emerged a winner. But the protagonist in NOTA didn’t face even half of this. The film showed traces of Nasser being the bad guy, but that quickly changed so we could not connect with the character. And through the film, Vijay Deverakonda was always in full rage. I didn’t understand what the issue was to react like a hot volcano.
What I liked in the film was that there were no duets, no love story that deviates from the story. Samchana Natrajan’s role felt like much needed refreshing factor, which was quite different from the roles of other leading ladies in recent films. The film’s other strengths include Vijay Deverakonda’s admirable screen presence, Sathyaraj and Nassar’s impressive performances. It’s a pity that the film didn’t add value to these talented actors. Sam CS music was perfect for the film. In fact, it elevated several scenes.
If you are a fan of Vijay Deverakonda’s flamboyant image, then you can consider watching this film. I also have to add about the PR agenda of the film. Wondering why? Because the actor has launched his production house ‘King of the Hill’, probably to mark his territory in the film industry.