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Bommai Nayagi Review: Yogi Babu is outstanding as a father in pursuit of justice for his daughter

​Shan's directorial debut ​revolves around how seeking justice is a hard mountain to climb for the oppressed sections of the society​​

Bommai Nayagi Review: Yogi Babu is outstanding as a father in pursuit of justice for his daughter
A still from Bommai Nayagi

Last Updated: 06.11 PM, Feb 03, 2023


​Story: When 9-year-old Bommai Nayagi is sexually abused by dominant caste men, her father goes great lengths to seek justice for her

Review: When it comes to the pursuit of justice, the oppressed sections of the society do not have it easy. And that's precisely what Shan addresses in his impressive directorial debut. The majority of the characters in Bommai Nayagi hail from the oppressed community. However, Bommai Nayagi is not just about that. It unravels many layers, including a heartwarming relationship between a father and daughter, women's education, a society where people would choose to protect pedophiles just because they hail from the dominant caste, the loopholes in the administrative system and how the influential can twist things to their advantage.

The film's runtime is only two hours, but it somehow feels like quite a long-drawn affair. It seems like the director has tried to package too many elements and hence, the scenes jump abruptly from one to another, to tackle the myriad issues on the plate.

The story is set in 2006 in Cuddalore where Velu (Yogi Babu) works at a tea shop. His world revolves around his daughter Bommai Nayagi (Srimathi) and his wife Kayalvizhi (Subatra). He has a complicated relationship with his stepbrother Senthil (Aruldass), who is an influential and wealthy man in the same village. While Velu respects him, Senthil, too, has a soft corner for Velu, but always treats him as a subordinate, to avoid the risk of losing out dominant caste votes. When Velu's employer decides to sell off the shop, Velu decides to buy it, courtesy the constant nudge by his friend Abdullah, who runs a beef biriyani stall in the neighbourhood. But his plans go awry when his daughter is sexually abused by dominant caste men. What follows is Velu's fight for justice for his daughter along with the help of Jeeva (Harikrishnan), an activist from the Communist party.

There are many sequences in the film that make a statement of their own. For instance, the scene where Abdullah says that unlike people like him become the 'owner', they have no standing in the society. Likewise, he says that beef prices have increased because more people have begun consuming the meat.

Jeeva, too, gets ample moments like that. Take for example, the scene where the policeman asks him, 'who he was' referring to his caste identity or the scene where he says that 'the day dominant castes realise that the oppressed no longer fear them is the day fear sets in their minds'.

And just like the iconic Johnny in Pa Ranjith's Madras, we meet a beggar (Shanthi Mani), who delivers thought-provoking lines and doesn't shy away from a fight.

After playing the lead actor in Mandela, Yogi Babu once again shines in this author-backed role as an earnest father who leaves no stone unturned to seek justice for his daughter. Throughout the film, he is pushed to the extremes and his emotions undergo a rollercoaster ride, but he displays it all with such restraint that it looks effortlessly natural. Velu is someone who has no faith in the judicial or police system, but still has to take the route for his fight. And when he realises that he is left on his own, he takes matters into his own hands. He has played his flawed character quite convincingly. His relationship with his daughter Bommai Nayagi (Srimathi, who is impressive) is a heartwarming one.

The rest of the star cast, be it Harikrishnan, Subatra, Aruldass or GM Kumar, have all come up with nuanced performances, but the characters could have been fleshed out better as all the actors have great potential. This is one reason that barring Velu, the remaining characters do not tug at your heart and do not leave a lasting impact. Music by Sundaramurthy KS maintains the tempo of the goings-on on screen.

Despite the abrupt pace and the few shortcomings here and there, the film gets brownie points for the sensitive portrayal of a crucial subject.

Verdict: Shan delivers a promising film in his directorial debut which champions the cause of the underprivileged. The icing on the cake is the splendid performance by Yogi Babu in an authorbacked role.

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