A few weeks back, I saw a poster on Instagram for Nava Rasa, coming soon on Netflix. What I then thought was a movie, turned out to be an anthology of nine stories, by nine directors. We started watching it on Friday and finished yesterday, hence this review today.
Nava Rasa means nine emotions and comprise: Shringaram (Love), Hasyam (Joy/Laughter), Karuna (Pity/Compassion), Raudhram (Anger), Veeram (Courage), Bhayanakam (Fear), Bheebhatsam (Disgust), Adbhutham (Wonder), and Shanthi (Peace). It is said that we all innately carry these nine emotions within us; some emotions are expressed more than the others and it is only when we learn to balance these positive and negative emotions within us that we can lead peaceful lives. For those who don’t know, Nava Rasa is a phrase commonly associated with Indian classical dance forms, where the dancers present these nine emotions with their abhinaya or facial expressions.
Coming to the Netflix version, like I said before it is a collection of stories depicting each of the nine basic emotions. Let’s take a look at them one by one:
- Edhiri (Karuna): Starring heavy weights like Revathi, Prakash Raj, & Vijay Sthupathi, Edhiri is about Revathi who is the only one who knows Vijay Sethupathi to be her husband’s murderer. In the climax when Vijay Sethupathi asks for forgiveness, Revathi responds by saying that she is not worthy enough to forgive him, because in a way she is also responsible for the line of events that led to her husband’s death. The theme was good, the acting, brilliant, but the story did not impact me as a viewer.
- Summer of 92 (Hasyam): Inspired by the life of veteran Malayalam actor Innocent, this story stars Nedumudi Venu, Y.G. Mahendra, Yogi Babu, Ramya Nambeeshan and others. Yogi Babu plays the protagonist who is now a very famous comedian. He returns to his alma mater for a special function, addresses the audience and tells them stories from when he spent 4 years in the same 9th standard classroom. I liked it because the episode offered quite a few good laughs; but it was missing Priyadarshan’s usual formula of slapstick comedy and non-stop laughter.
- Project Agni (Emotion – Adbhutham): A futuristic, science-fiction story with a KICKASS performance by Aravind Swami… I have nothing else to say! Well, I actually do. The concept of being able to travel through time and alter one’s subconscious and creating a new reality was mind blowing. And even more amazing was the name of the characters, Vishnu, Krishna, and Kalki.
- Payasam (Emotion – Bheebhatsam): Veteran actor Delhi Ganeshan plays a grumpy old widower who is unhappy with his lot in life and is jealous of all the good things happening to his nephew Subbu. He attends Subbu’s daughter’s wedding ceremony, where his jealousy spikes to a point that forces him to topple a huge container full of a special wedding payasam (milk-based dessert). This action earns him disgust even from his own daughter. Apart from the good acting, the story lacked depth and the girl who played his daughter could have been given more to do.
- Peace: (Emotion – Shanthi): Based in a war-ridden Sri Lanka, the story stars Bobby Simha and Gautam Vasudev Menon among others. The two men come across a young boy who claims to be separated from his brother. Bobby Simha risks his life to rescue the brother, who turns out to be a little puppy and notices that the opposition does not shoot at him after he makes his purpose clear. Unfortunately, he misunderstands the pause in firing as a sign of peace and goes back to thank them, and gets killed. The theme was good, but on the whole the story lacked emotion and felt very amateurish.
- Raudhram (Emotion – Raudrham): Aravind Swami’s directorial debut tells the story of a boy from a poor family who impulsively murders the man who takes advantage of his mother. The performance by Sree Ram was outstanding and for a debut directorial venture, the episode was very well done.
- Inmai (Emotion – Bhayam): Starring Parvathy and Siddharth, two actors I like a lot, Inmai explores fear through emotional blackmailing and supernatural elements. Though Siddharth manages to evoke fear in Waheeda, there’s no element of fear impacting the viewer.
- Thunintha Pin (Emotion – Veeram): My least favorite of all the nine stories, this episode is about a police officer who captures a dangerous naxalite leader, cannot bring himself to shoot the captive leader, and loses him at some point. I think the question to be explored is whether it takes more courage to let someone live than kill them, but it got lost amidst long conversations and very ill-planed action sequences.
- Guitar Kambi Mele Ninnu (Shringaram): Gautam Vasudev Menon has a formula that he loves — long monologues, slow conversations that flow throughout the story, an element of romance, and some sorrow. It may have worked in Khaka Khaka and a few other movies, but in this one, starring Suriya and Prayaga, only a few fleeting moments had any charm whatsoever. The rest of it was simply repetitive, predictable, and cliché. Time to find a new formula, Mr. Menon.
Though some episodes impressed more than others, Nava Rasa, on the whole, is surely a one-time watch. Let me know your thoughts!
Until I write again, stay safe and stay healthy.