Nerkonda Parvai is a near-perfect remake of Pink that puts our collective prejudices and misogynistic values on trial as much as the victims and perpetrators.

Ever since the news broke out that H Vinoth was remaking Pink with Ajith at the helm, NKP instantly became the most important movie of the year in Tamil cinema. It’s a momentous occasion that a mainstream star like Ajith is willing to take a break from his seemingly lifetime contract with Siruthai Siva, to make a socially relevant movie that conveys the much-needed message about women’s safety and consent.

The movie kickstarts with quite some intrigue. With an ominous musical score heightening the palpable tension in the air, we slowly piece together what has happened. Meera, Famita, and Andrea (Shraddha, Abhirami, Andrea) bump into a gang of boys after a musical concert. The latter invite the former to a resort for dinner and drinks. At a certain point, when Adhik tries to molest Meera, she attacks him with a bottle on his head.

Till this point, we hardly see Ajith in the screen at all. There is not even the obligatory over-the-top hero introduction scene, as the star actor cedes center stage in the early proceedings. It’s the most grounded movie helmed by a mainstream actor in recent times that it is pleasantly refreshing. When Ajith goes on a hasty car chase, he cannot find the bad guys (a completely logical result), even though your experience with Tamil cinema expects him to. H Vinoth does throw in a couple of songs and fights as fodder for Ajith’s star power, but it is heartening to see that he doesn’t force it into the script. Ajith has made a career for himself by looking cool while being badass, and the fights scenes in NKP are no different. The gratifying fight sequence just before the interval might have overstayed its welcome, but you understand the compromise the director has to make to placate diehard Thala fans.

The second half plays out as a riveting and engaging courtroom drama (unless of course, you are someone who has watched Pink and knows how the plot unfolds). All the three female leads are equally impressive in their roles as they display the right amount of helplessness, vulnerability and courage. Rangaraj Pandey plays the role of opposition lawyer, whom you will just love to hate. But it is undoubtedly Ajith who owns the courtroom sequences as he delivers one of his best-ever performances.

When the judge makes a lofty declaration of ‘a new beginning’ while delivering his final verdict, one could only pray such a claim comes to fruition. The 2003 blockbuster Ghilli (another remake) was a gamechanger in Tamil industry which spawned a decade of mainstream movies centered around larger-than-life personas. There is hope that NKP sparks a similar revolution, ushering in a new era of message-laden mainstream movies. In a state that increasingly getting more obsessed with its movie stars, the words of a megastar like Ajith is not just a message, but gospel taken to heart by his many fans. Credit must be given to Ajith for choosing a script that scathingly attacks age-old customs that still tell women how to dress and driving home the message that ‘No means NO’. Ultimately, NKP is a near-perfect remake of Pink that puts our collective prejudices and misogynistic values on trial as much as the victims and perpetrators.

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