Directors of Tamil cinema have an irresistible urge to cook up crime dramas set at the backdrop of North Chennai. N4 is the latest addition to the North Madras crime genre. The film is about how an unexpected event alters the lives of a bunch of people from different economic strata in Kasimedu. Actor Michael Thangadurai who was last seen on screens in Ward 126 is back on screens with his crime thriller drama N4. Actress Gabriella Sellus has essayed the female lead role. Story teller Lokesh Kumar has written and directed the movie. So, how has the crime thriller flick N4 come out? Will it help actor Michael Thangadurai deliver a solid commercial success that he is craving for, and be a successful outing for director Lokesh Kumar? To know that let us get into the movie review.
The film follows the lives of four orphans Surya (Michael Thangadurai), Soundharya (Gabriella Sellus), Karthi (Afsal Hameed), and Abhinaya (Vinusha Devi) who grow up under the wings of Kannamaa (Vadivukkarasi), a fisherwoman who lives in N4 coastal slum. Surya and Karthi do low wage odd jobs in the local fishing harbor. Their employment is irregular and precarious. Soundharya and Abhinaya sell fish in the markets to make a living. Despite their hardship and financial predicaments, they lead a happy life. Surya and Soundharya are in a sort of love-hate relationship but are in no mood to tie the knot and settle down. Whereas Karthi and Abhinaya desire to get married and build a family.
Meanwhile, there is a gang of teenagers who have taken a taste of the life of crime, and aspire to be gangsters. The secluded spots adjacent to the sea in the neighborhood draw kids from well off families who use the place to get drunk and do drugs. On one occasion, Surya, Karthi, Soundharya, and Abhinaya are on their way home. They hear a gunshot. Before they could comprehend the situation, they realize Abhinaya has been hit by the bullet. Will Abhinaya survive the bullet wound, and what kind of repercussions is this going to have on Surya, Karthi, and Soundharya, is what makes the rest of the flick.
Kollywood story tellers have a liking to make films based out in North madras. But not all capture the lives of people in the vicinity with authenticity. To director Lokesh Kumar’s credit, he brings fine granularity into painting the day to day lives of the people in the area. He burns ample amounts of time to pull us into the locality by presenting us with shots of their everyday mundane activities. We witness details of the uninhabitable milieu the people live in, the hardship they face on a daily basis for their livelihood, the bond they share, and their nature to find great happiness over basic things that are generally discarded by society. None of this is done in a forced manner or to milk emotions. Once we are acquainted with the characters, he introduces a shocker wave and changes the flow entirely. After this point all we experience is raw misery and injustice that unfold in cold blood.
Director Lokesh Kumar goes for the bull’s eye. He holds a mirror to reflect the reality of how corrupt people in administration work at the beck and call of the wealthy, and go to any extent to protect them even from grave crimes they commit. While the poor are left stranded and to live with the injustice unleashed on them. Another interesting aspect is, N4 does not aim to paint a black and white picture. It has adequate room to show that there are good people within the system, and how their hands are tied despite being in a powerful station. N4 might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Some may approach its sluggish pace critically. A setback most films rooted in realism find difficult to dodge.
Actor Michael Thangadurai is natural. He has got under the skin of his character and has brought it to life. He yet again exhibits what a top-notch performer he is. Actress Gabriella Sellus has landed an interesting role, though not a meaty one. She does complete justice to her part. Actor Afsal Hameed makes his presence felt. Actress Anupama Kumar holds our attention with her impressive performance even in a short screen time. Actress Vinusha Devi pulls off her role smoothly. Veteran actress Vadivukkarasi is exceptional as usual. Actress Pragya Nagra serves the purpose for which she was brought on board. Actor Akshay Kamal is functional. Actor Abhishek Shankar is operational. Actors Subhalaxmi Parida, and Azhagu have chipped in and have played their part well. The rest of the cast has delivered what was asked of them.
On the technical front, music director Balasubramanian G’s tracks do not last in our memory. But he makes up for it a bit with his background score that adds value to the film. Cinematographer Divyank has done a fine job covering the drama. He has stationed his cameras at right locations in the best angles possible. His visuals are vibrant and colorful. Editor Dani Charles has put his scissors at right spots and has enhanced the work of his colleague.
On the whole, storyteller Lokesh Kumar’s N4 has an interesting premise which is driven by decent performances but its frail screenplay happens to be its Achilles heel.