Nagaram is a racy and taut affair, both on the screen and on your nerves. The usual grouse that we have about thriller films in general is that they either lose steam midway or end up trapped in their attempt to create uber-complicated plots and leave many loose ends that the audiences are left to deal with. Nagaram steers clear of any of those pitfalls, and maintains a remarkable tempo that never allows your pulse a dull moment.
A victim of a case of mistaken identity (Sri), an obsessed lover (Sundeep Kishan) keen on roughing up anyone to protect his lady love (Regina Cassandra), a good-hearted cabbie (Charle) and a reluctant abductor (Ramdoss) form the crux of Nagaram's plot. Among the primary cast, it is only Ramdoss who gets an onscreen name, and is called Winnings.
Sri, who is an immigrant to the city in search of a job, is manhandled and knocked down by a group of ruffians who mistake him for Sundeep. In his endeavor to get back his certificates which the group has snatched from him, he ends up being involved in further complications.
Meanwhile, Sundeep, who is hell-bent on getting his revenge on the guy who had previously gotten into a heated argument with him regarding Regina, severely hurts him in an acid attack, and is advised by his police officer uncle to abscond for a while.
In another track, in a grungy shack in another part of the city, a gang of kidnappers have picked up the wrong child owing to the amateurishness of Ramdoss, who took up the job though his heart was not in it. This kid happens to be the son of PKP (Madhusudan), who is like the you-know-who of the Chennai Gangsters Community.
Charle is meanwhile learning the tricks of surviving in a big city, and is on his first driving assignment.
How these four characters' lives intertwine through the conflation of the sub-plots and come a full circle at the dénouement is what keeps the frames rolling. The movie effortlessly zig-zags through the various sub-plots and characters, turning an otherwise complex script into a coherent piece of work that is smooth on screen.
What stands out about Nagaram is how it uses the mundane setting and going-ons of a typical urban city, nothing too flashy or dramatic, and manages to generate riveting circumstances amidst such ordinariness. Anticipation grips the viewer all through, and gets thicker with each maneuver the plot takes - though you may have a fair idea of what is in store next, there is still palpable tension.
Sri does a good job being a hapless youngster who is struggling to come to terms with the ways of a metro. Sundeep Kishan looks and acts tough, and is apt casting for the reckless young man he portrays. Regina does not have enough screentime to actually register a performance, but she looks good and does her best in a limited scope.
Ramdoss has a characterization that provides much ground for humor, and he rises up to it and provides the much-needed comic interludes in an otherwise dark script. A particular scene in which he demands his ransom while shaking from head to toe evokes some laughs. Charle, too, does a decent job as a guy who goes out of his way to help people.
The screenplay is the heart of the movie, as it is with any thriller. The background score augments the suspense in many crucial moments, and plays in your mind way after you have walked out. The songs squeeze past without grabbing much of your attention. There are some panoramic shots of the city which capture the landscape against the dark night effectively.
Nagaram, while churning out with delicate perfection, all the elements expected from a dark mystery, also serves up a strong social message. It puts the spotlight on the liberties that the urban populace gives to evil even when it raises its ugly head in full public view. It reminds us that each one of is but a miniature version of society, and that like all things in life, society, too, does unto us what we do unto it.
This movie is a must-watch for its gripping plot and for the sheer technical finesse in every department that adds greatly to its personality.