Nadunisi Naaygal (2011)
Gowtham Vasudev Menon


Nadunisi NaaygalPart rip-off, part tribute to Psycho (1960) – right from the plot to the up-down movements of objects and the camera – Gowtham Vasudev Menon’s Nadunisi Naaygal (“Midnight Dogs”) charts the activities of a soft-speaking serial killer, Veera, who lives with his (surrogate) surrogate mother in a mansion consisting of, well, three floors. Menon’s film is nearly as much about transgression – of mores, of geographical boundaries, of industry idioms – as Hitchcock’s picture was about deviation – of the narrative, of normalcy, of sexuality. Menon has said elsewhere that this is a film based on a true story, while it’s actually a pseudo-horror based on the superficies of a pseudo-science (spare me the Oedipii and the Electras), where, unlike the finale of Psycho, it is the director who plays the shrink all along, deeming deviance as just a product of other deviant practices. (Naaygal has one of the ugliest directorial schemes of recent times, with subjective and objective reality clearly delineated by awkward POV patterns). Menon has also proclaimed that Nadunisi Naaygal is his middle-finger-to-all film. True. It is, in fact, the film in which he actually wants his audience to hate him, to consider him as an outlaw. (He succeeds by leaps and bounds: He’s written a character that invites unanimous derision). Evidently, the director recognizes himself in the central character – a psychotic woman-slayer – which is only partly acknowledged by the employment of POV shots for both the filmmaker-killer and the audience-victims. (Tarantino nods abound, starting with the title). This is a refreshingly skewed perspective from and of a director who has been routinely killing off his lead women in his films. With Naaygal, like Veera, he almost denies that he had anything to do with his previous blockbusters at all. May be he’ll deny later that he had nothing to do with Naaygal as well. May be this is a turning point in his career. May be it’s the end of it. May be he hears those dogs howl at midnight.


(Image Courtesy: Chennai 365)