Naradan Review: A stinging take on the dark side of media
Over the last few years, we have seen a transformation in the media like never before. So much has happened that we are slowly losing our trust in the news channels and the reporters. What is presented to us has mostly come from the desire to trigger sensationalism, to create fear in us, to derail us from things that actually matter. Naradan attempts to take a dig at this media gimmick and zooms into the ugly corners of newsrooms that are hungry for ratings. The name of the movie is an interesting one as it takes inspiration from the Hindu mythological character Naradan, who, apparently was the first known preacher of news.
Tovino Thomas plays Chandraprakash/CP, a well-known news anchor who feels a bit out of place when the rival channel gets a groundbreaking story. The pressure from the top management gets him and he decides to leave the channel when certain workplace politics also takes away the best of him. Initially, the film focuses on two main Malayalam news channels, one is the best in business and has CP as the face while the second one is struggling to compete and has Pradeep John as one of its faces. CP joins a budding news channel Narada News after resigning from his previous firm and rebrands himself as a fierce, loud, and angry channel head with a hectoring style of anchoring. His transition makes for one of the film’s high points. The rest of the story propels with CP adopting unlawful and unethical media practices to top the game.
Pradeep John (Sharafudheen) and CP (Tovino Thomas) are both representatives of two different media ethics. Pradeep stays in his initial channel despite having no payment out of love for the profession and respect for his superiors. CP on the other hand is power-craving media personnel who is obsessed with himself. He wants to be the super-power in the media business and doesn’t shy away from resorting to any cheap and unfair tactics for that. Though this different representation starts off really well, it doesn’t get a completion. Pradeep’s character isn’t given any power and is left incomplete.
There comes a point where CP’s rapid escalation to the top of the career ladder gets a little scary. It is the resemblance of several segments in the movie with some real-life incidents that actually make it a little scary. A crippling sense of helplessness creeps in.
The courtroom drama that takes up the last 20-30 minutes of the film is one of the best parts of the entire run. Feisty verbal arguments on how or what can be constituted as public interest journalism have all our attention.
Tovino as Chandra Prakash/CP imbibes every essence of a competitive and vindictive news anchor. The way he talks and walks resonates a lot with him. He gives the right amount of energy needed for the character. But the reasons for this character shade of CP are never made clear. Anna Ben as Shaakira Mohammed, a strong and vocal advocate shines bright. She carries the “I’ll burn you to the ground” attitude really well. Indrans too serves the purpose well. The good thing is that none of the other actors get drowned in the dynamic energy that Tovino Thomas exudes.
Though well-intended and putting out the right arguments, Naradan does fall short of clever writing in certain places. As a whole, Naradan is one of the best movies and most realistic movies made on media politics made so far in Malayalam cinema.
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