A revenge-drama overshadowed by violence
The crime-drama is based on the late Jayant Pawar’s story Varanbhatloncha Ni Kon Nay Koncha. It revolves around the lives of two young boys from Mumbai’s chawls making their way into the world of crime. After his father, a dreaded gangster, is killed, the only ambition that young Digya (Prem Dharmadhikari) has is to become a gangster, and find and kill the person who killed his father. Giving him company in all his deeds is his friend Iliyas (Varad Nagvekar). Like any teenager, these two are learning new things about the human body and human behaviour every day. However, there’s no one to explain those things to them in the right way, barring Digya’s grandmother (Chhaya Kadam) who also has the house to run. Growing up in bad conditions, financially and socially, there’s not much anyone can do to help these two, especially when they’ve decided to take the path of crime, which will eventually lead to prison or death.
The film has ample glimpses of Manjrekar’s Vaastav (1999) and Lalbaug Parel (2010) which too showed the effect of the closure of Mumbai’s mills on the mill workers’ families, and the younger generations of these families getting involved in criminal activities. Manjrekar has even said that these three films complete his trilogy.
While NVLKNK is essentially a revenge crime-drama with a hard-hitting story, two things work against the film – unnecessary titillation and gore. Not to say that these two are completely unnecessary in the film, but it goes overboard here. On his part, Manjrekar has done his best to mask the violence and explicit scenes by not fixating much on the activity as much as the reason behind it.
The film takes a Quentin Tarantino-like approach, not just in terms of content and violence, but also with the non-linear treatment it gets. But it reveals more than it’s able to hide, making NVLKNK predictable.
The high points of the film come through performances. Youngster Prem is menacing as the cold-blooded and determined boy who wants to be the king of crime. Varad as his sidekick is convincing. Among the seasoned actors, Chhaya Kadam and Shashank Shende deliver brilliant performances, while actors like Rohit Haldikar, Umesh Jagtap, Kashmera Shah, Ashwini Kulkarni and Ganesh Yadav help take the story forward.
There’s a lot going on in this film simultaneously, but the explicit content, whether or not essential, often overshadows the story of revenge and crime that NVLKNK is. The film is definitely not suitable for the below-18 age group. For adults, this is a film that you can watch at your own risk.