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Saturday 13 April 2024
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Nibunan Movie Review

Nibunan is an intelligent thriller about a team of investigative officers — Joseph (Prasanna) and Vandana (Varalaxmi Sarathkumar) headed by Ranjith Kalidoss (Arjun Sarja). On the other hand, there’s a psychopathic serial killer on the prowl with back-to-back murders. After his impressive debut with Achchamundu Achchamundu, which dealt with paedophilia, Arun Vaidyanathan has chosen whodunnit as his premise.
Nibunan Cast: Arjun Sarja, Prasanna, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, Sruthi Hariharan, Suman and Suhasini Mani Ratnam
Nibunan Director: Arun Vaidyanathan
Nibunan Rating: 4 Star Rating: Recommended4 Star Rating: Recommended4 Star Rating: Recommended (3.5/5)
Take any crime scene. Barring the victim and the killer, who are the plausible links to the case? A police officer, a forensic expert and a lawyer, right? The rationale behind a whodunnit thriller is simple –revenge. What starts off as an okayish film gets intricate with its details, as the mystery unfolds. Nibunan begins with a Bondesque introduction. Ranjith, Joseph and Vandana are at a shootout. This is Arjun’s 150th film. Hence, before revealing our hero, Arun lingers on the tattoo on Ranjith’s hand — the tricolour, reminding us of Arjun’s kind of films. Or perhaps it’s a dig at Arjun as Nibunan is not…Jai Hind 3.

Halfway through the film, there’s a point which had an nice effect on the audience. Ranjith is a few feet away from the killer. He’s armed and ready to gun him down. Before he pulls the trigger, Ranjith’s hand shivers. Earlier in the scene, we come to know that Ranjith has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. This is perhaps the defining point of Nibunan that constantly throws such surprises. Like for instance, each time a murder happens, the killer calls either Joseph or Vandhana (they’re really good) in the wee hours. While we normally expect a conversation, in Nibunan, we hear the killer exhaling loudly. This has a wonderful relevance for the script, as he’s a drug addict and can be seen smoking pot in the end.
If you’re a fan of True Detective and Seven, there’s a possibility that you may like Nibunan more. Because the director allows you to think. In one of the early scenes in the film, Ranjith gets a present from someone. It’s an unnerving human doll, with a bull’s mask covered in blood. The killer leaves four holes on the doll. A lion’s mask for his second crime with three bullets. Someone is making a statement. But, who? Before you think, a man gets murdered in a similar fashion.
Ranjith is cautioned about the third murder. “We’re looking for a psychopathic killer,” he says. A well-built Ranjith gets a punch from Vandana, who says that the tattoo on her body is her zodiac sign. It rings a bell, with the audience too. Like a Rubik’s Cube, Ranjith solves the puzzle. Murder. Zodiac sign. The number on the victim’s body. And the commonality between the victims. When Ranjith finally narrows down to the next target, you can’t help but admire Arun Vaidyanathan’s writing.

Nibunan goes into the subplot where we get to see the actual picture. Have you been following Mysskin’s films? Then you may tend to suspect almost every character in the flashback portion.
For such a plot-building premise, I was wary about the psychopathic killer. He’s smart but the casting has to be good. But when the final revelation happens, it was quite convincingly done. That said, considering several such layers, the killer’s motive could have added even more weight, had it been written properly. Or maybe the director wanted the killer to be Jack the Ripper, as one of the officers mentions it.
Silence is one of the most important aspects of any film. However, Nibunan’s score is a deafening experience to most of us in the theatres. Good music, but the sound is too loud.
Arjun is perhaps the most underrated actor in Tamil. He’s someone who could be part of a political satire like Mudhalvan or a romantic drama Rhythm, and yet deliver a smash hit. You can see him in Kuruthipunal and Mankatha.The man is 52 and has been paired opposite Sruthi Hariharan, who’s almost his daughter’s age. However, the age hardly shows up on screen, which, sort of, makes the character lively.

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