Cast: Nayanthara, Vijay Sethupathi, Atharvaa, Anurag Kashyap, Raashi Khanna
Music Director: Hip Hop Tamizha
Director: Ajay Gnanamuthu
Anjali Vikramadityan (Nayanthara) is a leader in a world full of men. She tramples sexism with one foot, while the other taps in sync with Hip Hop Tamizha’s EDM-inspired background score. There are flashes of her wounded past. Her once long, wavy hair is now tightly wound – a reflection of the way Anjali has retreated into herself. To the world outside, she is a tough cop.
At home, she restricts herself to giving her daughter only a slight caress, as if any more display of affection could lead to the end of this special relationship as well.
On the hunt for a serial killer, Rudra (played with a lot of flourish by Anurag Kashyap), Anjali is focussed, determined. And yet, he manages to catch her unawares time and again. She almost closes the net on him in one particular scene. She takes some time off to gloat about it, and just like that, he outwits her. Yet again.
This chase becomes personal for Anjali. Imaikkaa Nodigal could very well be about the decorated CBI officer who loses her icy reserve, bit by bit. Towards the end, Anjali struggles to maintain composure. She falls. The men gather around to gloat. Only to watch her rise again.
Ajay Gnanamuthu writes Anjali in such a way that she does not require any histrionics. A steely stare here. That practiced little flick there, and soon, you know that this is a woman you should not mess with. Interspersed in the narrative that employs needless and out of place metaphors (lions, hyenas) to lead the audience on (do serial killer films have to have these?), are well-intentioned dialogues about women and their place in society. If not for the placement, they would have worked better.
Much of the film unfolds in that cold, emotionless world Anjali locks herself in. There’s no room for the lighter emotions here. Only cold facts and hard truth. As Rudra continues to taunt her, and eventually uses someone close to her as bait, she unravels.
The emotional core of the film is anchored by the effervescent Vijay Sethupathi in a cameo. He appears for a good 15 minutes towards the end, and even in that limited time, he manages to make his presence felt. As Vikramadityan, he is the strong, beating heart of the film. And once he disappears, the film sinks.
Atharvaa’s Arjun is a direct contrast to Vikramadityan. He is consumed by jealousy, and spits out hurtful words in anger. He wounds his girlfriend Krithika, time and again. She says she wants to break it off. But she will always love him. This is clearly a toxic relationship.
Vikramadityan humanises the tough cop. Nayanthara is not an approachable star. She doesn’t have a warm screen presence here. It is upto Vijay Sethupathi then, to make her real. And for a brief few minutes, she is a real person.
The swift return to reality is brutal, in a way. The cameo offered a lot of hope. It offered love. Shorn of all these, Anjali is back to her tightly wound self.
Even the cinematography reflects this sensibility. RD Rajasekhar allows the sun to shine only when Anjali and Vikramadityan are at their happiest. The rest of the film resides in the bright glares of office lights and street lights.
Hip Hop Tamizha’s background score often masks scenes. It settles like a dark cloud over the proceedings, and is often at odds with what happens onscreen. The duo unleashes its best work for the Vijay Sethupathi cameo.
Ajay Gnanamuthu’s Imaikkaa Nodigal does not believe in gray areas. Even when the heroine violates laws, it is because she wants to right a wrong. The bad man, even though he wants vengeance from a person he said did wrong, is still basically a bad man. It is a good versus evil story, the story of a woman who exacts revenge against a man. Ultimately, we all know who wins.
You can’t help but feel that a woman need not always need a reason to kill time and again. Anurag Kashyap’s character is a cop with an addiction to kill. Wouldn’t it be cool to see an Anjali with the same ruthless addiction?
The title is a reference to a key moment in the film. It is unflinchingly brutal, and only a scene of such magnitude can ever explain what it sets in motion. However, the title can not be reduced to just this.
Imaikkaa Nodigal is also about the men who watch Anjali like a hawk, waiting for her to fail. It is about Anjali who has her eyes peeled open for the next tragedy to strike. It is even the child, who stares unblinking, as her mother narrates a tale of love lost.
It is Anurag Kashyap’s Rudra, as well. The man who won’t close his eyes, lest he miss all the fun.
And once he does, it’s game over.
The Imaikkaa Nodigal review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.