NOTA movie review: Vijay Devarakonda is riveting in a political drama devoid of commercial trappings
By making Vijay Devarakonda lead the film, director Anand Shankar has made NOTA more convincing and realistic.
Vijay Devarakonda’s first straight Tamil film NOTA, directed by Anand Shankar, is an intense political thriller, without any commercial frills. It is gripping and revolves more around the machinations and jockeying that go on behind the scenes to capture power and become the chief minister of a state. Anand Shankar has taken incidents from what happened in Tamil Nadu politics in the last two years as the crux of his story.
Varun (Vijay Deverakonda) is a London returned happy go-lucky guy and son of chief minister Vinodhan (Nasser), a former superstar-turned-politician. He runs his party with an iron hand but is convicted in an illegal assets case and has to go to jail. He makes Varun, who is not even a party member, as the temporary new CM. The idea is clear that Varun will only be a “dummy CM” till daddy gets bail. But soon as the situation spirals out of control fuelled by an ambitious opposition leader and his daughter, Varun is forced to become a “Rowdy CM”.
He is helped by a journalist and commentator Mahendran (Sathyaraj, modelled on the late Cho Ramaswamy), who was once giving political advice to his dad before they had a fallout. As Varun becomes strong as an able administrator (in handling the Chennai floods), his dad comes out of the jail but is caught in a bomb blast and gets hospitalised. Once out of the hospital, Vinodhan wants to get his chair back and plans to bring down his son’s ministry.
There have been films of the same pattern, but what makes NOTA different is that the director has not added any unwanted commercial ingredients. There is no romance or a leading lady in the film which also does not have any humour and mass action scenes. By making Vijay Devarakonda lead the film, the director has made it more convincing and realistic. Every major political incident that happened in Tamil Nadu has been weaved into the script – dynastic politics, hero-worship culture, Chennai floods, how news channels controlled by politicians whitewash their leader and create fake news, godmen manipulating political leaders, and resort politics to keep MLAs safe from poaching. In one scene, Nasser tells his MLAs not to bend too low showing servitude otherwise they will forget his face when his statue has to be built. In a way, it is a sarcastic dig at what has been going on in Dravidian politics in the last few years.
To a large extent, what Devarakonda and director Shankar want to convey is that you need big money to control and run a political party. But the film does not turn preachy at any time. However, it lacks powerful dialogues and there are some loose ends in the script which should have been tied up.
The film belongs to Vijay Devarakonda who has given a riveting performance. He is there in almost all frames and along with Nasser and Sathyaraj, the young superstar holds the film together. NOTA, by and large, is enjoyable, racy and relevant to its time.
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