Producer: Manju Thomas
Cast: Lekshmi Sharma, Gopika, Nitya Das, Seema, Kalabhavan Mani, Rekha, Sudheesh, Ashokan, Salim Kumar, Harisri Ashokan, Biju Menon, Riza Bawa, Jaffer Idukki, Rajan.P.Dev, Sreeraman, Thilakan, Anil Murali, Baburaj, Zeenath, Anoop Chandran etc.
Music: Mohan Sitara
Lyrics: Gireesh Puthencherry and Asha Ramesh
M.A. Nishad, who made his directorial debut with Pakal, has now come up with his second venture Nagaram, which too deals with social and environmental issues of utmost relevance. The issues are presented in the form of a story, but the presentation is often un-cinematic. Theme-wise the film is good, but cinematically it is imperfect in many respects.
Kochi Corporation authorities are facing a crisis as regards waste management. Lalgudi Naanappan, who has acquired the contract for handling the waste from the city, doesn’t know where to dump all the garbage. And so his work comes to a standstill and the city Mayor Professor Sreelatha Varma, who is rather upright, doesn’t sanction his bills. Naanappan has much support from many inside the government machinery, especially the corrupt fellows, whom he has lured with his money. These include the opposition leader in the City Council Stephen, Parasuraman who is an MLA, Advocate Eenasu who is the legal consultant to the ruling party, the State Health Minister etc.
On the advice of his well-wishers, Naanappan plans to dump all the garbage in a village named Sivaramapuram. Ponnayyan Thevar, who owns most of the land in Sivaramapuram village, agrees to let Naanappan dump the waste in his land. And thus all the waste from the city starts flowing to Sivaramapuram. Sivaramapuram is a remote and serene village where people have been living rather peacefully, far from the hustle and bustle and pollution of the city. In the village lives Chinthamani Ammal, an elderly lady, who is a do-gooder and is loved by all. Also living in the village is young Mayamma, an Anganvadi teacher and daughter of the local physician, Ramanunni Menon. Yet another young girl in the village is Poonkodi, who lives very close to the land that is chosen for dumping of the waste.
The villagers are made to believe that a Waste Treatment Plant would soon come up in the village, thus providing employment to many. But little do they know about the environmental problems that are soon to engulf them. A young journalist Radhika pops up in the village, and embarks on a crusade on behalf of the innocent villagers. She finds a good fighter in Mayamma and what all follows forms the theme of the film.
The issues dealt with are very relevant and current and the story-line chosen too is good, but the way the story is scripted and treated leaves much to be desired. The screenplay is loosely constructed and the director too fails to do a satisfactory job. The frames of the film resemble that of a television serial rather than a film and hence would surely fail to impress viewers who have got used to fast-paced, slickly-edited films made with the support of ace technicians.
Performance-wise too the film doesn’t give us anything spectacular. Lekshmi Sharma (who made her debut with Palunku) as Mayamma is just OK, though she seems to falter at certain points. Gopika as Radhika is good. Nitya Das as Poonkodi doesn’t impress at all. Seema as Chinthamani Ammal is good. Salim Kumar as Lalgudi Naanappan disappears midway. Kalabhavan Mani as Ponnayyan Thevar is good, but his role ends with the interval and so he doesn’t have much to do. Biju Menon as an honest and idealistic doctor, Rekha as the Mayor, Ashokan as Stephen, Riza Bawa as Eenasu etc are OK.
Of the songs, “Muththaaramkunninu meethe…” rendered by Yesudas deserves special mention. Cinematography is in tune with the theme, but it seems that much more could have been done as regards editing. Cinematically Nagaram falls way behind Pakal, but still the director deserves to be appreciated for choosing such relevant and burning issues when everyone else seems to be hankering after commercial stuff. The intentions of the makers in giving voice to a cause should not be overlooked. And the courage that the makers have shown in making a film with no hero or heroine too should be appreciated, since in Nagaram it is the issue that is of prime importance and the stars take a back-seat.
It should be noted that Nagaram comes at a time when the Malayalam industry has become too dependant and also when people are not bothered about issues at all, even though they are of vital importance as discussed by Nishad in his two films. It’s because of this that the makers have to promote Nagaram as a Kalabhavan Mani film though this is likely to mislead viewers. The positive side of this is that at least by this device they can lure a section of the viewers into seeing this well-intentioned film. Otherwise who cares to see well-intentioned films, sans stars?