Naaradan’s portrayal in Hindu mythology serials that aired in my childhood always made him look like the prime example of one of those “men who liked to watch the world burn”. And so I was mildly surprised when Chandraprakash’s fictional media firm in the movie’s fictional universe was called Naaradan. Some Malayalis in the movie’s universe would make this connection and CP would be trolled to his wit’s end, right? Apparently not. We don’t see much of the audience’s side of the story in Naaradan. And this, in my opinion, is what makes this movie a sub-par social commentary. Why? Let me tell explain.
|Spoilers ahead so continue reading only if you have watched Naaradan or don’t really care about spoilers.|
Chandraprakash the ‘Naaradan’
We’re introduced to all the main characters in the movie in the first act; Chandraprakash is one of them. He is a journalist who seems to be leading a normal journalist life. He is an asshole boyfriend, but hey who are we to judge?! We see that his father is very money-minded and it has probably rubbed off on him too. But while we are introduced to the character, there is very little effort taken to get us emotionally attached to Chandraprakash or understand his state of mind.
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When his career is on the line, Chandraprakash is pushed into a corner and decides to start his own news channel. He knows that TRP (Target Rating Point) is everything and does every ‘naariya kali’ in the book to get his news channel to the top – from sting operations to planting fake drugs on a target, from a quotation against a fellow anchor to blackmailing a journalist with their nude video. The blackmailing incident comes to bite him in the rear and leads to his downfall.
Through Chandraprakash, we are shown the worst of journalism. But this “worst of journalism” is not something that’s limited to Naaradan‘s universe because…
A lot of it seems eerily similar to real-life.
And that’s not a coincidence. It is obvious that the creators wanted us to make these connections. From the “chaliyil ninnu virinj varunna thamara” to the obnoxious ‘debates’ that Chandraprakash indulges in on his channel, it is painfully obvious who the movie is actually talking about. I believe the original names and situations weren’t used just to avoid getting sued. As viewers, we realise who the bad guy is – both on-screen and in real life.
But both these ‘characters’ run extremely successful ‘news agencies’. Naaradan seems to indicate that we don’t have a role to play in this except that Naaradan swindles us.
The real villain of the story
What the movie fails to do is hold the mirror to our faces. Instead, it gives us a strawman in the form of Chandraprakash – a person with hardly any redeeming qualities. And by extension, lead us to believe that the ‘real world Chandraprakash’ is the reason behind the situation in the real world.
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But let’s zoom out of the character’s flaws and focus on what his objective was.
He wanted to improve the TRP of his channel. And how can the TRP improve? When more people watch his channel. How can he increase viewership? Give the viewers what they want. So who is the real villain?
Now, I know it is debatable, and that there is a lot more to think about and dig into before we identify the ‘real villain’. But my issue with Naaradan is that the movie comfortably ignores this line of thinking and focuses solely on creating an anti-hero.
By doing so, the movie does a great disservice as it leads us to feel better about ourselves as we have no active role to play in the current state of the nation. But, I believe, that the ‘bad actors’ will try to exploit our inherent human flaws. It is up to us to counter our base instincts and fight the propaganda. Even when the propaganda is in the form of a movie that portrays the people we dislike as the ‘bad actors’ and absolve us of our sins.
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