Monday, August 16, 2010

Naaga (2003) dir. D.K. Suresh

My blogging buddies over at Cinema Chaat recently did a fabulous review of my favorite film, Yamadonga. When I read their review I was reminded that Yamadonga was the film that pushed me over into major Jr. NTR fangirlyness.  So now whenever I watch a film of Tarak's I allways find something wonderfull about them, even the flops.  So we have Yama to thank for me loving the film Naaga even though it apparently flopped badly. Flopped so badly infact that all my usual go to sources for film synopsis' like Wikipedia, Telugupedia and IMDB did not include a plot summary at all. So when I put my unsubtitled dvd in to watch I was going to be flying blind. I think I understood it fairly well so any Telugu speakers who have watched it, if I have taken a wrong turn in understanding anywhere please leave a comment and let me know!
    The movie centers around a College where NTR plays a law student named Naaga.  Sunil and Venu play students at the college who I think urge Naaga into getting involved in the Student Union. His father played by Raghuvaran is a Bailiff in a courthouse who pushes his son to focus on becomming a lawyer and doesn't seem to want his son to divert his attention from studying to student politics.
 NTR's love interest is played by Sadha. She lives with her Dad and has a sister that is married to a  shady, disloyal guy who works for a politician played by Nasser. It turns out her Dad and Naaga's Dad are old friends, so there is ample opportunity for all kinds of flirty irritation. I love the first song although I am somewhat irritated it is stuck in my head right now.

Naaga's school holds a Jubilee celebration that has politician Nasser as the keynote speaker.  Naaga is clearly moved and inspired by whatever it is that Nasser says.

There is also some entertainment. My least favorite of the songs that for some reason features CGI knockoffs of Pixar animations. I don't know why.

Now comes the conflict. Supporters of Nasser and his rival clash in the streets in front of Naaga's home.  One of his sisters and his Mom and Dad get roughed up by the rowdies. NTR takes them all on and badly beats one of the leaders with a hand pump. This fight was choreographed more like a real brawl than the usual super hero fights.

There is just enough time for father and son to have an argument over Naaga's rowdy behavior before Dad has to face the humiliation of seeing his son arrested and taken to court.  His court.

But being the good law student Naaga makes a fairly long speech that impresses everybody and gets him off the hook.

See how happy Dad is now? Now Naaga has the attention of the leaders of Student Unions from other colleges. He gets appointed Union president (I think) And gets the positive attention of Nasser and the emnity of Nasser's rival.


I love the next song, very catchy and the lyrics mention Aishwarya, Kajol and Preity Zinta.

After another fight, some more student union type business and rescuing car crash victims, Naaga gets in trouble from Mom because he missed an important family event.  (I think it might have been his own engagement ceremony- Dude! that is so not done!) But you know Mom's, they don't yell, they just lay on the guilt through layers of tears. (Love that Momma drama!)
Dad? Well Dad is just plain hurt and disapointed.

But everyone else thinks Naaga is great!
Now Nasser's rival doesn't like all the positive attention Naaga is getting for Nasser, so he arranges to give the student unions and Naaga some very bad press and hopefully get them out of the way.
He uses the husband of Sadha's sister to tell Naaga (I'm just guessing here!) some reason why the student unions have to protest and shut down the trains from moving. Meanwhile some rowdies posing as students wreak havoc in the city while Naaga and his followers lay down infront of a train. After some scuffling involving the police, Naaga then  inexplicably pours petrol all over himself and threatens to emoliate himself. (Why? Why?)
His dad comes to stop him and threatens to do the same with requisite pouring of petrol.  As a horrified Naaga is carried away by the police, Sadha's Brother in Law, who had been getting ready to throw a match on Naaga, throws one on Dad instead. So now Naaga is back in jail, mourning his father as the funeral procession he cannot attend goes by.
I know what you're thinking. Pefect time for a romantic song right?

Naaga manages to give another heartfelt speech, that gets him released in time for some tears and hopefully forgiveness from Mom.
Now he's on a mission to  find out how his Dad died and presumably to end the other injustices that threaten the political system. He finds out that there are some rowdies stuffing ballot boxes  during the election that is finally being held. In the chase and fight that ensues it appears Naaga is arrested again, but this time he isn't in any of the jails his friends search for him in.
Gosh1 It wouldn't take much of an accident to get the water jugs to fall off that truck!
In the meantime, Sadha and her father find out that their relative is the one who killed Naaga's Dad. In the ensueing scuffle over a tape, Sadha's father is killed and now Sadha and her sister need rescueing.  But where is Naaga? Seems he is being beaten and tortured by Nasser's political rivals.
Thankfully Naaga spits a well aimed ice cube at one of his tormentors and manages to escape!(Yes that is really all it took.)
But during his escape he falls into a vat of paint or plaster and then runs around looking like a scary creature that keeps popping up out of nowhere, to the sound of a lions roar. How'd ya like to look up and see that staring at you!
He makes it to Sadha's, where she cleans him up. They hatch a plan to get the bad guys and have time for another song.

While Naaga and Sadha and her sister are driving around, they stop for gas, and guess who is filling up right next to them? Yep, justice is about to be served!

Next Naaga gets a phone call that somehow causes him to end up on a train. 
I don't know why he was on the train, but who cares! Now there is time for this awesome item number with Rambha, choreographed by Lawrence. Woot!
One of the rowdies makes it to the train in time to apparently plant several bombs.  Now we have not only a dance on a train, but all the great things that go on when  there is a fight on a train!
Fighting in the train.
Fighting on the train.
Falling off then running to get back on.
Koyla fans will note he is NOT on fire however.
And of course risking yourself to save others.

It all ends happily enough considering how many times Naaga got thrown in jail and of course his and Sadha's Dads were killed, and his Mom and future sister in law are widows.  Nasser sure is proud of him though!
All in all I thought Naaga was a good vehicle for what Tarak does best.  It had many opportunities for the delivery of empassioned and hopefully moving dialogs, some really great song picturizations with the usual awesome dancing from Tarak. It also had ample opportunity for heroics and action.  What more could you want in an NTR film?


  1. Great review. I'm sure at some point I will follow you down the path of Tarak-completism and will check this out.

    Thanks for the link to the Entha Chinna Muddu video--it reminds me that I keep meaning to start a "South Indian film stars in Cowboy Hats" stargazing thread on BW.

  2. Liz, I only have 2 Tarak movies left, Subbu and Ninnu Choodalani, having some trouble finding them though. Great idea for a Stargazing thread on BollyWhat. I could put my screen caps of Takkari Donga to good use!

  3. Great review.
    Must try and hunt this down as it looks fantastic. I do love fight scenes involving trains - so much scope as you rightly pointed out. And plenty of dancing too - excellent!

  4. hi again...this is sachin from twitter
    great review yet again!
    I see that you have 2 movies left of ntr...did you already watch ntr's first movie "Bala Ramayanam" (1996). It is about one of the great hindu epics Ramayana. all the characters in this movie are children, including ntr in the lead role. But it is tough to find on the internet...

  5. Hi Sachin,
    Actually someone has sent me a link of Bala Ramayanam. I haven't watched it yet becuase I am having trouble downloading it. I really want to be able to see it. Especially if it shows Tarak doing some classical dance. Do you know of any videos of him doing Kuchipudi dancing other than "I go crazy" from Kantri? Or maybe you can DM on Twitter with another link to Bala Ramayanam? I would REALLY appreciate that if you have some sources.


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