December 16, 2010 Y. Sunita Chowdary
King Naga Bhairava (Venkatesh) will not touch a woman unless she's willing but at the same time he cannot take it if any other person admires her. Smitten by a dancer's beauty, he brings her to his palace, chops of the arm of the man who sketches her portrait, burns the dancer and beheads her paramour. Chandramukhi, the dancer vows to gather his dust in a year's time and enter's the soul of one of the the three daughter's in Sarath Babu's family. The family is deeply disturbed at the happenings in the house and the strange behaviour of all the three daughters. The onus is on Dr. Vijay (Venkatesh again) a psychiatrist who believes in his profession but is compelled to give a listening to a priest's advice.
The rest of the story rides on suspense, is it really a Chandramukhi who's causing havoc or is it an illusion? Which one of the three ladies willingly takes in Chandramukhi's atma and behaves abnormally? If we are repeating the word Chandramukhi and not Nagavalli, it means that the director doesn't want the audiences to forget the former and it's also pointer that the Nagvalli, the title is just a name sake, with a pinch of reason thrown in.
Nagavalli doesn't begin in the order mentioned above but as expected leaves the audiences ambivalent about how to interpret the film till the end, regardless the simple plot. Director Vasu has his priorities right in scripting and addressing the story to his viewers, he makes sure everything is perfect, the cast, crew, the taking, the performances and the denouement but either due to the repeated viewings of the first part, or the capacity of the audiences to guess and connect the happenings in the sequel, the element of thrill goes for a toss.
What do you do when you catch a cold? Take a medicine. If the medicine doesn't work change the composition. Here in the film, the composition doesn't vary. It's the same treatment by a different doctor. You leave the theatres with the feeling that Chandramukhi is back but in another story, another family. It isn't chilling, frightening or has too much of a shock value to warrant an A certificate.
In the first part, the director concentrated on Chandramukhi alone while developing her role from the beginning. Here the focus on the lady in whose body Chandramukhi is tapped isn't given much importance and you can't expect the audience to sympathise or empathise with her in the last fifteen minutes all of a sudden. The introduction song of Venkatesh could have been done away with, it didn't add value to the story.
Despite these limitations the film does hold an interest and makes for a story book like viewing on screen, specially when the king and the dancer step into the plot and also the few seconds when an aged king with elongated nails comes out of isolation.
Another way to approach the film is by not expecting a gripping and an emotionally charged narrative but an engaging one, which is what the mass identifies with. About the performances, leading the ensemble cast is Kamalini Mukherjee in a brief yet sincere role brings out the angst that has been trapped in her. Anushka looks like a piece of sculpture, beautiful and thankfully with the right expressions this time.
Shraddha Das heightens the suspense factor and Richa's dramatic work towards the finale is pat worthy. Brahmanandam's role is just an ornament. Jewellery, costume, make-up all are in sync with the story and the cinematography matched the content. Songs are good.
Venkatesh competes with himself in the dual role, if he is quietly effective as the doctor, he pulls it off with an aura aura adding his distinct touch. In his role of a villainous king, one wonders if he's the same person..tuning in authentic work. Director Vasu crafts the film well, paces it efficiently, getting exactly what he needed from each actor and crew. Finally..there is nothing to dislike in the film but there isn't enough to love either.