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Nadikar review: A solid second half saves Tovino Thomas' wobbly film on acting masterclass

Nadikar review: Tovino shines in a role that requires him to be aware of portions where he is playing David or a character essayed by David in Lal Jr’s directorial

Nadikar review: A solid second half saves Tovino Thomas' wobbly film on acting masterclass
Soubin Shahir and Tovino Thomas in a still from Nadikar

Last Updated: 02.44 PM, May 03, 2024


Nadikar story: Superstar David Padikkal’s meteoric rise to fame also puts him in the spotlight when his talents don't quite match expectations. His revelry and insecurities further make matters worse for him, till an acquaintance suggests that he hire an acting coach to learn the craft and turn his luck. But will David’s bloated ego play spoilsport?

Nadikar review: In a scene in Lal Jr’s latest movie about a superstar, after Driving License , its protagonist David Padikkal finds himself on a theatre stage along with young thespians and their tutor. The scene, he is pushed to enact, has the tutor mouthing the lines - ‘Let us in’ - multiple times. Only for David’s character to remain defiant. In a way, the scene draws parallels to David’s mindspace - an insecure superstar who has built barriers around him to not let others know the facade is cracking.

Poster of Nadikar
Poster of Nadikar

David, played by Tovino Thomas, is introduced as a superstar who had a meteoric rise on the back of his three blockbusters. But his career has been on the wane since, with the audience and those in the industry soon finding out that he might not have what it takes to sustain the stardom. While in his earlier movie Driving License, director Lal Jr portrayed a more sombre life of an established superstar, in Nadikar, he goes all out in painting a picture of revelry and insecurity of someone who enjoys the fame but doubts his calibre. The latter is what leads him and his acquaintances to seek help from an acting coach named Bala (Soubin Shahir), who tries to help David learn the craft. But this is not as easy as seems.

The makers don’t quite focus on David or let you stay with his character for long. What this robs is the emotional depth that the audience could have from a brilliant climax that is well written, edited and performed. The scene from the film, which is scripted by Suvin Somashekharan, shows the character, the performance and the inspiration from which the actor draws from and the payoff could have been greater had it been followed by a solid first half that seems to have been sacrificed for humour and emotions that don’t quite hit home. That said, the goal of making David realise that he as well as the audience should care more about the character rather than the actor is established with this.


This also means that the film feels stretched and rather uneven, with David’s transformation being played out far too soon and his discovery of empathy coming from random incidents, making it inorganic in the process. You also don’t feel the impact that Bala has had on David - despite the duo’s chemistry.

Tovino shines in a role that requires him to be aware of portions where he is playing David or a character essayed by David. That in certain scenes there isn’t too much of a difference, speaks volumes of how much he is in control of his character in the movie. This is most evident in the play sequence as well as the denouement where David has to up his game. It’s also not an easy character to relate to, especially with David coming off as a brash person with no empathy from anyone but himself. He also adds flair to the superstar; but if the character had been fleshed out better, the actor could have built upon that too.

A still from Nadikar
A still from Nadikar

Soubin as Bala get the bulk of the comedic sequences of the film along with Balu Varghese. The former’s sequences with Tovino and Bhavana in the movie keep the laughs coming, but the ‘acting lessons’ at the bar, hotel room and a college auditorium do seem forced.

The film also has several blink-and-miss cameos of artistes such as Dhyan Sreenivasan, Sushin Shyam and Chidambaram, along with some good performances by Ranjith, Anoop Menon and Suresh Krishna.

There are several nice touches in the film, which starts off by showing the evolution of title cards and an interview byte of arguably Malayalam cinema's first superstar Prem Nazir. But the novelty wears off in the first half, which needed some better writing. It's not until the final hour that the makers seem to have noticed what Nadikar lacked.

Nadikar verdict: Lal Jr’s latest movie is wobbly but a solid second half elevated by Tovino’s performance and a brilliant climax makes it worth a watch, especially if you are a fan of movies about the film industry and specifically about the life of actors.

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