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“Nadikar”: A Missed Opportunity to Delve Deep Into Cinema’s Realms

In the business of cinema, advice on the artistic craft of acting to the subtleties of screenplay selection, and even the technical specifics like the choice of camera lens for a particular scene, are crucial elements that filmmakers juggle with precision and care. “Nadikar”, a film that ostensibly presents itself as a masterclass in the nuances of movie-making, fails to heed its own lectures, unraveling as a lesson in missed opportunities.

The film charts the tumultuous journey of David Padikkal, essayed by Tovino Thomas, a young actor crowned as a superstar after basking in the glory of three blockbuster hits. Fame, however, proves to be a treacherous beast as Padikkal grapples with the pitfalls of stardom—his hedonistic lifestyle and his refusal to refine his raw acting talents signal the beginning of a precipitous decline.

Amid this maelstrom of self-destruction, the audience witnesses moments of introspection plagued by the specter of self-doubt. Padikkal’s hubris, especially manifest in his interactions on film sets, compounds the problems, distancing him from the industry and peers who once celebrated his ascent.

In a fleeting instance that teases originality, “Nadikar” cleverly employs its opening credits to mirror the historical evolution of movie introductions. But this spark of ingenuity is short-lived as the film devolves into a superficial self-discovery narrative, failing to transcend clichés or offer novel insights into the life and psyche of a film superstar.

The screenplay by Suvin S. Somasekharan lacks the dramatic tension and conflict necessary to drive the storyline forward, instead presenting a meandering plot that seems as lethargic as its protagonist, unaffected by the lively score or dynamic cinematography that encircles it. Notably, the film’s climax—a movie within the movie—exemplifies this lack of vigor, stretching on without much to offer in terms of engagement or climax.

Quick fixes and superficial solutions are proposed to David to refine his artistic output, like tapping into childhood trauma to fuel emotional depth in his performances. Yet, such attempts at depth are rendered impotent, failing to evoke empathy or a genuine connection with the audience. The screenplay’s attempts to humanize and transform Padikkal into a more grounded individual and, by implication, a more profound actor, feel contrived and lack resonance.

Director Lal Jr.’s previous work “Driving License” evidenced a stronger grasp on the dynamics of stardom, backed by a more robust script. By comparison, “Nadikar” flounders, even with the commendable efforts of supporting actors like Suresh Krishna and Balu. Sadly, actress Bhavana is delegated to the periphery with inconsequential screen time, emblematic of Malayalam cinema’s ongoing struggle with underwritten female characters.

Adding to the film’s list of creative missteps, the classic Pink Floyd song “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” is inappropriately leveraged as a tagline and in a climactic song, its legacy tarnished within the film’s context.

It is a curious conundrum that “Nadikar”, a film intent on providing an introspective gaze at the film industry and its star machine, manages only to touch the surface. Ironically, it seems to parallel the very flaws it seeks to critique, becoming emblematic of the broader issues it could have addressed with greater depth and artistry.

For audiences seeking an insightful look into the nuanced world of filmmaking, “Nadikar” ends up being more of a cautionary tale—a reflection of what could have been, rather than what is. As the film currently rolls in theatres, one might hope for a richer, more textured portrayal of cinema that awaits us in the wings, untouched by this unfulfilled foray.