Rating: 5/10 (Boring Political Thriller)
Cast: Vijay Deverakonda, Nasser, Sathyaraj, MS Bhaskar, Priyadarshi, Sanchana Nataranjan, Yashika Anand, Karanukaran, Rajendran, Mehreen (Guest Appearance)
Story-Screenplay-Dialogues-Direction: Anand Shankar
Producer: K.E. Gnanavel Raja
Banner: Studio Green
After the smashing success of Geetha Govindam, Vijay Deverakonda is back with his latest film NOTA after a short gap of two months. Playing a CM in the film, the film was predominantly shot in Tamil and dubbed into Telugu. Can Vijay keep the success streak going with this political film? Let's find out in this week's review
Plot: Unbeknownst to him, Varun (Vijay Deverakonda) is made the new CM of Tamil Nadu by his father Subramanyam (Nasser) who is the current CM of the state and reasons best known to him. When his father gets arrested and is sent to jail, it's up-to Varun to run the state and assert his authority over his people. How he does that and what obstacles he faces in the process forms the rest of NOTA.
Performances: Vijay Deverakonda is the only reason to watch this film. He is fabulous in his role as Varun but the role has no lasting impact like Arjun Reddy or Vijay Govind. He gets the job done and his incredible screen presence makes him a joy to watch.
Nasser and Sathyaraj are the other two pillars of the film and veterans are flawless as usual. Tamil actor MS Bhaskar is adequate as the adviser and party member to the CM
Sanchana Natarajan is decent as the two faced party member. Mehreen shouldn't even be called the heroine. It's more a guest appearance as she is there for literally 3 scenes.
Priyadarshi is wasted and Tamil comedian Kanurakarans comedy doesn't register. The rest of the actors are all Tamil actors who are unknown to the Telugu audience.
Direction: Anand Shankar's last film was Iru Mugan, a thriller featuring Vikram in a dual role which failed miserably at the box office. And he is back with his latest offing in NOTA. It's clear that he has no grip on the Telugu sensibilities and played to the galleries of the Tamil audience. A bilingual should have scope for both sensibilities or balance both of them and he fails to do either. Simply put, NOTA has neither a good script or good direction. And the entire fault lies on the director as he is responsible for both departments. Despite the Rowdy CM scenes and a few scenes here and there, NOTA makes for a painfully boring watch,. Particularly because Shankar doesn't capitalize on the high that the aforementioned scene gives. The 2nd half conflict with the dam isn't known to many outside Tamil Nadu. And it sure won't appeal to the Telugu audiences either. The climax doesn't make any sense either. Despite Vijay Deverakonda's presence, Anand Shankar fails to utilize this opportunity and squanders what could have been an engaging political thriller.
Technicalities: Music and BGM by Sam CS is decent. While the songs are terrible to hear and badly filmed on screen, the background score provides some respite much needed oxygen to the slow proceedings. Cinematography by Santhana Krishnan Ravichandran is alright. There's nothing outstanding about the visuals. Editing by Raymond Derrick Crasta is poor. The film has serious pace issues which results in a boring narrative. Art is fine. Dialogues are not upto the mark because in all essence, NOTA is a Telugu dubbed film primarily shot in Tamil. Costume Design is decent as Vijay Deverakonda looks stylish for the most part of the movie. Production Values by K.E. Gnanavel Raja are grand. The film looks rich and vibrant throughout.
+ Vijay Deverakonda
+ Sathyaraj and Nasser
+ Rowdy CM portions
Final Take and Analysis: Post Geetha Govindam, Vijay Deverakonda picks the subject that every star hero seems to be associating themselves with in politics. After Bharat Ane Nenu and the forthcoming Sarkar, NOTA is the 2nd film of 2018 from a major star that deals with politics. While Bharat Ane Nenu had a few mass moments to bail it out of being boring, NOTA cannot brag of the same feat. To put it simply, NOTA is a boring political thriller that has aimless scenes and serious connectivity and pace issues.
God knows what Anand Shankar said to Vijay Deverakonda for him to accept this film but whatever it was, it's likely to far from the final product that we see here.
The film opens with Nasser making Vijay the new CM as it seems to be a tradition of nepotism in politics. After Nasser is convicted of a crime, Vijay is sprung into action and must now take responsibility as the new CM. Besides the well taken Rowdy CM scene where Vijay gets emotional over a little girl who dies due to a fire, the film doesn't really provide any sort of insight into Tamil Nadu's current political issues or anything of that sort. Even the dam issue chosen in the 2nd half seems very unnecessary and cinematic so so to speak. While there is a twist in the climax of the film, it really doesn't matter because the film's fate has already been sealed by then.
It's not that NOTA is a poorly made film and one of the worst movies. It's one of those films that has a lot of promise, but the execution is way off and the script just doesn't have the content to be successful.
The fault here lies with both Anand Shankar and Vijay Deverakonda. A star should be equally responsible for the choices he makes along with the director if the movie is bad. NOTA is a prime example of that.
The icing on the cake is a cameo by AR Murugadoss. The result of Spyder is still fresh in the mind of the Telugu audience. Vijay Deverakonda's presence is the only saving grace for the movie.
Overall. NOTA is a boring political thriller. Despite Vijay Deverakonda's scintillating screen presence and decent performance, NOTA simply doesn't have enough content to engage you throughout the 153 minute run time. It shines here and there but doesn't come together as one full cohesive narrative. Watch it only if you're a die hard Vijay Deverakonda fan.