Finally after weeks of dispute between the various sectors of the Malayalam film industry, this weekend heralded the release of Jayaraj's "Nayika" much to the relief of the movie starved audience. The film has already attracted attention owing to its hatke promos, not to forget the fact that one of the greatest yesteryear heroine Sarada is doning the grease paint after a hiatus. Jayaraj is one of those directors whose directorial qualities keeps fluctuating like a pendulum. So the question now is whether the film is as good as what the trailer conveys or is it just a smokescreen???
Aleena (Mamta Mohandas) was the grand daughter of noted director Job, who had calls the shots for many a star. Prominent among them was Grace (Sarada), who ruled the silver screen until her sudden disappearance. This prompts Aleena to unfurl the mystery in the form of a documentary. But things werent going to be easy, as Grace was leading a life of seclusion owing to her mental imbalance. As part of her search for truth, she meets up with many of Grace's colleagues starting with Stephen Muthalali (Siddique), the owner of the production studio under whose banner she had many successful films with the evergreen superstar Anand (Jayaram). Slowly, Aleena comes across stories regarding Grace's romance & the suicide of her adopted daughter Vani (Sarayu). But the more she came to know, the more suspicious she becomes. Are there many more skeletons to tumble out of the cupboard???
Whenever I have come across any film displaying the fictitious disclaimer, I have always taken it with a pinch of salt. The same situation happens here as well & there is no denying the fact that many of the characters & events has been inspired from real life with a wisp of fiction. Deedi Damodaran has incorporated many real life events such as Vijaysree's suicide following her wardrobe malfunction in "Ponnapuram Kotta", Jayaram's character which was a mix of Prem Nazir's mannerisms along with Sathyan's last few months etc. Deedi definitely had an interesting thread but it failed to produce an impact as expected mainly due to Jayaraj's inadequacy. Some of the sequences such as recreating the past seemed appalling as many of the characters seemed to have drank from the fountain of agelessness. Hardly anything happens in the first half since the build up of events does takes an awful lot of time, while the latter half impresses in spurts.
Padmapriya enacting the younger Grace has rendered an impressive performance while Sarada fails to impart as much impact as one would expect. Jayaram was spot on with his mannerisms though it was very much like a glorified guest appearance. Siddique once again showcases his acting prowess while Sarayu was apt in her small yet prominent role. The music by M.K Arjunan was impressive as many of the songs managed to impart a nostalgic feel keeping in with the mood of the movie. As for other aspects, I dont believe it has much to praise nor despise.
Verdict: The film will not open the flood gates, but it will have an average opening owing to the movie starved audience & interesting promos. However, the execution impacts the film majorly driving away any scope of having word of mouth in its favour. Though it does have an interesting thread on the lines of "Thirikatha", it drags at many sequences. In short, it's worth a one time watch but not in theatre!!!