Navarasa (web series)

Navarasa (transl.Nine emotions) is a 2021 Indian Tamil-language anthology streaming television series created by Mani Ratnam, who also collaborated with Jayendra Panchapakesan to produce the series through their newly formed banner Justickets.[1][2] The series features nine stand-alone episodes based on the Indian concept of the Navarasas, filmed by Priyadarshan, Karthik Subbaraj, Vasanth, Arvind Swami, Bejoy Nambiar, Karthick Naren, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Sarjun KM and Rathindran R. Prasad. It stars an ensemble cast of Suriya, Vijay Sethupathi, Siddharth, Revathi, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Prayaga Martin, Arvind Swami, Prasanna, Poorna, Delhi Ganesh, Rohini, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Yogi Babu, Manikuttan, Remya Nambeesan, Aditi Balan, Bobby Simha, Riythvika, Sree Raam, Atharvaa, Nedumudi Venu, Anjali, Kishore amongst others.

Navarasa
Navarasa web series.jpg
Promotional poster
GenreDrama
Anthology
Created byMani Ratnam
Written by
Directed by
Starring
Composers
Country of originIndia
Original languageTamil
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes9
Production
Producers
Cinematography
Running time30- 48 minutes
Production companies
  • Justickets
Release
Original networkNetflix
Original release6 August 2021

The idea for the series was conceived when Mani Ratnam and Jayendra worked on activities for social causes, and planned to direct a project for a streaming service in order to help the daily-wage workers and other members from the Film Employees Federation of South India (FEFSI) affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, by generating funds through this project. Marking the digital debut for Mani Ratnam and the production studio Madras Talkies, the company teamed up with FEFSI and Bhoomika Trust for the fundraising activities. After an official announcement during October 2020, with the cast and crew members, including the directors, writers, composers, cinematographers and editors working in the film, the production of the short film-episodes began during the same month and ended within March 2021. Three films proposed by directors Halitha Shameem, Ponram and K. V. Anand, were dropped during the production stage.

Navarasa was the most anticipated Tamil project in the streaming service, due to the star cast, technicians and directors working in the project and the promotional campaigns. The series released on 6 August 2021 through Netflix.[3]

PremiseEdit

Each of the nine episodes represent a different emotion or rasa- anger, compassion, courage, disgust, fear, laughter, love, peace and wonder.[4]

EpisodesEdit

Title Rasa (Emotion) Director Writer(s) Music Director Cinematographer Editor
Edhiri Karuna – (Compassion)[5] Bejoy Nambiar Bejoy Nambiar, Arpita Chatterjee, Mani Ratnam Govind Vasantha Harshvir Oberai Veena Jayaprakash
Summer of '92 Haasya – (Laughter)[6] Priyadarshan Priyadarshan Rajesh Murugesan V. Babu Ruben
Project Agni Adbhutha – (Wonder)[7] Karthick Naren Karthick Naren Ron Ethan Yohann Sujith Sarang Sreejith Sarang
Payasam Bibhatsa – (Disgust)[8] Vasanth Vasanth,
Thi. Janakiraman
Justin Prabhakaran Sathyan Sooryan Sangathamizhan E.
Peace Shaantha – (Peace)[9] Karthik Subbaraj Karthik Subbaraj, Someetharan Santhosh Narayanan Shreyaas Krishna Vivek Harshan
Rowthiram Raudra – (Anger)[10] Arvind Swami Pattukottai Prabhakar, Selva, Arvind Swami A. R. Rahman Santhosh Sivan Sreejith Sarang
Inmai Bhayaanaka – (Fear)[11] Rathindran R. Prasad Rathindran R. Prasad Vishal Bhardwaj Viraj Singh Anand Geraldin
Thunindha Pinn Veera – (Valour)[12] Sarjun KM Sarjun KM, Priyanka Ravindran, Mani Ratnam Sundaramurthy KS Sudarshan Srinivasan Karthik Jogesh
Guitar Kambi Mele Nindru Shringaara – (Romance)[13] Gautham Vasudev Menon Gautham Vasudev Menon, Madhan Karky Karthik P. C. Sreeram Anthony

PlotEdit

Edhiri (Karuna - Compassion)Edit

On 1 January 2020, Dheena (Vijay Sethupathi) visits the house of a unidentified man. The man's wife Savithri (Revathi) is tutoring the children of her domestic worker. After a while, Savithri goes to her husband Sivaraman's room and finds, to her horror, that he has been killed. Meanwhile, Dheena sends his wife Malli (Sai Tamhankar) and toddler daughter to safety and takes shelter in his grandmother's house in Kerala. As the police investigation is on, Savithri's son Varun (Ashok Selvan) unsuccessfully persuades her to reveal the identity of the killer.

Meanwhile, a mysterious man (Prakash Raj) at Dheena's grandmother's house repeatedly tries to speak to him, much to Dheena's annoyance. Later, in October 2020, Dheena admits that he sought shelter after killing the man he holds responsible for his elder brother's suicide. He had gone to check if the man had any "remorse, regret or compassion", but became enraged at the man's insulting remarks toward Dheena's dead brother. The mysterious man (now visible to the viewer as a reincarnation of Sivaraman (Prakash Raj) declares himself to be the manifestation of all the hatred that Dheena has fostered against those who have hurt him since his early life. He further asks if, since he has been killed, Dheena has forgiven the others. He adds that Dheena hates his character, not his body, which Dheena is still carrying, and that he will continue to shadow Dheena until he has gotten rid of the latter. He also asks Dheena to think what he would have done had he been in his shoes. Having said all this, he sings lines from the song "Manithan Enbavan Deivam Aagalam" ["A man can become God" - from the film Sumaithaangi]. Later, Dheena is sent to another destination, with the news that his wife and daughter will soon catch up with him. Over the phone, he makes a cryptic statement to Malli: "I don't know if what I've decided is right or wrong. I hope you'll understand".

In early 2021, Savithri leaves her house to visit the temple, despite opposition from a visiting relative (a reference to restrictions on Hindu widows). As she is praying at a spot in the temple complex, Dheena comes up to her and seeks her forgiveness for his deed. Savithri implies that her husband and Dheena could have better handled all the events leading up to the murder, and that she has not spoken to her husband for several years due to an argument, and her own non-interference in the final confrontation makes her guilty as well. She concludes that she has no right to forgive or punish Dheena.

Summer of '92 (Haasya - Laugh)Edit

Sometime after 2014, Velusamy (Yogi Babu), a famous comedian, is invited as chief guest to his old school. As he gives a speech to the student body, he recalls all of his school memories, being the naughtiest kid who failed 9th grade four times. Each time, he happened to get on the bad side of his teachers, which led to him failing. He recalls that during his last year as a 9th grader (1992), he ended up spoiling the chances of an arranged marriage for a teacher - Lakshmi (Remya Nambeesan) - who was also the principal’s (Nedumudi Venu) daughter. Her family had an annoying dog -"King" - that the principal constantly tried to get rid of. But King is stubborn and always returns home to Lakshmi no matter how far away he takes it. As a last resort, the principal recruits Velusamy and his friends to take King far away from his house on the day a prospective groom is coming. But King escapes, ends up being covered in feces, and starts running back home. Just as the prospective groom’s family is about make the alliance official with the Lakshmi, King enters and shakes off the feces from its body, coating everyone in the house. The marriage is cancelled, and the principal kicks Velusamy out of school.

At the end of the flashback, Velusamy apologizes to Lakshmi, who has remained unmarried all these years. She says she forgives him and praises him for his accomplishments despite not passing 9th grade. But she adds that the smell from that day still has not left her house.

Project Agni (Adbhutha - Wonder)Edit

The episode starts with Vishnu (Arvind Swami) recording himself discussing his struggles after discovering something about reality and the future. Flashbacks are shown of his wife and son on a beach, where he is deep in thought and not paying attention to his family. There are also scenes that show him standing alone on that beach with a gun. It is revealed that Vishnu is a scientist who does his research about the universe and time. He rejected an offer from ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) as he did not want to work in a confined space and wants his mind to be free.

Sometime around 2020, Vishnu invites his friend Krishna (Prasanna) - who works in ISRO - over to his home to share something mind-blowing. Vishnu shows him the date December 21, 2012, which is when the Maya calendar predicted that the world would end. But since that it did not happen, he theorizes that an extremely intelligent alien species called “Anunnaki” are the ones controlling our reality. He tells Krishna that the universe is a computer stimulation controlled by them - that our whole life is programmed and we are characters in a game of life and death. He believes that is why astrology also works. Krishna grows increasingly irritated with Vishnu's absurd theories. He becomes angry and decides to leave. Suddenly, Vishnu closes his eyes and seems to do something. Another Vishnu and Krishna appear in the house, and they both tell the original Krishna to stay and listen to the rest of Vishnu’s theory. Vishnu goes on to say there are two worlds: one is our world we are living physically and the other is a subconscious “dream” world in which we are living subconsciously. He believes that on December 21, 2012, our dream world started to be destroyed by the population growth. He thinks that if things continue this way, humans will one day lose the ability to use their imagination or dream.

He invented a machine called Drifter with Kalki (Sai Siddharth) - his research assistant since around 2015 - in which he could travel in time through his mind to study the ‘dream state’. He believes that our whole life is mapped out already in our subconscious dream world, and we could learn about the future and the almighty ‘Creator’ if we accessed it. He reveals that he has mastered reaching his subconscious mind which gives him the power to connect with the ’Creator’. But he has been using a psychedelic drug called DMT to help him accomplish this.

During his last Drift which lasted only 10 minutes, he changed something in the past, which led to his wife Lakshmi (Poorna) and child disappearing in the present. He tells Krishna that while drifting, you have no control of the time and place you reach. He believes that when he drifted, he messed up the simulation set by the Anunnaki, and created a glitch that erased his family. He adds that his ability to make things in his imagination a reality is a dangerous weapon. Vishnu gives a suitcase called ‘Project Agni’ to Krishna and tells him to open it when he leaves. He wanted to share his knowledge with him, and trusts he will use it with good intentions.

It is revealed that his assistant Kalki also drifted and gained power to control his mind. But he had evil motives after realizing the power behind his abilities. He wanted to construct another Drifter, but it could not be done without ‘Solution A’ in the suitcase. Vishnu’s letter to Krishna in the suitcase asks that he share it with his company and track down Kalki at all costs.

Meanwhile, Vishnu is ready to kill himself over the guilt of erasing his family. Just as he is about to pull the trigger, his doorbell rings. He answers it only to find and Krishna and his wife. It then revealed that the person who first came was Kalki disguised as Krishna. Now with ‘Solution A’ in his possession, he has full control of the world. The episode ends with Vishnu saying that he made a big mistake.

Payasam (Bibhatsa - Disgust)Edit

In 1965, a brahmin Samanadhu (Delhi Ganesh) is seen going to a temple in his village in Kumbakonam, to perform an early morning pooja. He starts complaining about his nephew Subburayan (Kumar Natarajan) to a woman (Rohini) at the temple. Subburayan’s daughter is getting married, and Samanadhu is refusing to attend the wedding.

At Subbu’s house, his extended family has gathered for his daughter Bhagyalakshmi's (Aditi Balan) wedding. Subbu is earnestly making preparations for the wedding, with the hopes his uncle will attend and bless his daughter. At his home, a young widow is seen helping out, though some family members seem to show discomfort for her presence. She speaks with the cook (Bagavathi Perumal) at the wedding, revealing that he cooked for her wedding too. She was married to a lawyer, but he died only 92 days into their marriage due to cholera. Bhagyalakshmi is later seen complaining that she wants her braid to be made longer with extensions as the groom, Natarajan (Karthik Krishna), previously saw her with long hair. The widow brings her extensions to add to her hair, and they share a hug.

Meanwhile, Samanadhu is still complaining at the temple. It is revealed the woman with him is his wife Valambal. She expresses her distaste for him relentlessly cursing his nephew Subbu and his family. She tells him that despite pulling his nephew out of school due to lack of funds, he established himself and even helped his other family members. Even Samanadhu’s son got a job thanks to Subbu. She adds that with his wealth, he even bought land for his uncle. He shoots back, saying the land was on the outskirts of the village and that it is worthless. Their children are attending the wedding, but Samanadhu is still refusing. He continues ranting and reveals that his wife has passed away and he is talking to an illusion. He eventually agrees to go to the wedding.

At the wedding, a young man, revealed be the older man’s son, asks the widow (his sister) when their father is coming. She replies that she does not know. He asks her to go back to their home and fetch him.

The wedding starts soon, and Samanadhu arrives. He is greeted by his daughter and son. Subbu finds them and greets him, offering a fancy coat to his uncle. He puts on a fake smile and accepts it. He watches the wedding and starts hearing his wife praising Subbu. He complains that his daughter had such trouble finding a suitable match, only to have the man pass away a few months later. Meanwhile, Subbu’s daughters had an easier time finding matches, and they have been married off without a problem. He hates Subbu for being able to give his daughters a good life whereas he failed. He eventually tells his wife to go away. He also gets up and leaves as the wedding Thali is being tied. Still disgruntled, he walks away into the kitchen where the wedding cooks have been working all day. He sees the pot of payasam they have been making and knocks it over. The cooks arrive after hearing it fall, but Samanadhu claims to have done it because there was a dead rat in it. Bhagyalakshmi, knowing his true intentions, is disappointed and looks at him with disgust. Subbu asks Samanadhu to bless the couple. Samanadhu puts on his fake smile again and does as he is told.

Peace (Shaantha - Peace)Edit

The story is set during the Sri Lankan Civil War, sometime between July 1991 and January 2009.

Four LTTE militants are reinforcing their defense line set up near Elephant Pass.They come across a young boy (Master Tharun) who claims that he has been separated from his grandmother and younger brother while fleeing from advance by the army. The boy further states that his brother Vellaiyan is alone at their house, vulnerable to attack by the army. Hearing his story, Nilavan (Bobby Simha), one of the militants, becomes pensive and wishes to save Vellaiyan. His comrades initially oppose his decision. Revealing the story of his paraplegic mother who died alone in a similar situation earlier, Nilavan wants to help the boy as a way to atone his mother's death. The group's 'Master' (Gautham Vasudev Menon) permits him to carry out the plan. He also warns that Nilavan should return within ten minutes, the usual time window during which the military would be letting down their guard for their parade.

Nilavan heads to the boy's house, but he cannot find Vellaiyan. It turns out that the "younger brother" mentioned by the boy is a puppy. Feeling that they have been misled, Nilavan's comrades ask him to return without the puppy. Though Nilavan is initially angry at the boy for 'tricking' him, he decides to take Vellaiyan after hearing the boy's pleas over the walkie-talkie. On the way back, Nilavan is wounded in military firing but makes it to the hideout and hands over Vellaiyan to the happy boy. As his comrades treat his wounds and chide him for undertaking the risky operation, Nilavan declares that the enemies do not have his name written on their bullets, and "My death has been postponed by this pup". He says to 'Master' that he was motivated by memories of his mother and the pup's name -- 'Vellaiyan' is the name of his elder brother who was killed in a battle in 1988.

The story takes a drastic turn when Nilavan decides to shout thanks to the military for letting him complete the rescue. This time, he succumbs to a shot. Nilavan's comrades begin to retaliate the military heavily. The boy runs away from the battlefield with Vellaiyan.

Roudhram (Raudra - Anger)Edit

A loan shark, Ganesan (Azhagam Perumal), is scolding a shopkeeper for not repaying interests on time. Despite the latter's pleas, he forces the shopkeeper to extract whatever little money he has in his pocket. Ganesan walks away from the shop when a boy, Arul (Sree Raam), attacks him with a hammer, critically injuring him. Arul is locked up, and the police grills him for the reason behind his attack, but Arul refuses to give them an answer. Meanwhile a female cop (Riythvika) is desperate to know some answers related to an attack and is frustrated when her subordinates fail to get the suspect to answer.

Arul reminisces of his past, where he hails from a poor background with his mother (a janitor) and his school-going sister, Anbukarasi (Abhinayashree). Their day-to-day existence is hand-to-mouth because of his mother's low income. Arul and Anbu are sad that they are not able to afford even good food and little possessions of their own. They discuss between themselves that they would rather run away and find better livelihood someday. Their mother overhears this and silently cries seeing their sad state and at her inability to provide for them. Arul convinces his mother to take a loan from Ganesan. Soon, their little wishes, like uninterrupted electricity, new clothes, food, and shoes come to reality. Arul is awarded a cash prize for winning a football tournament and goes to Ganesan's house to return a part of the borrowed money. However, he is shocked when he finds his mom in a compromising position with Ganesan and leaves the place upset. It is shown that this is the reason why Arul had attacked Ganesan.

The female cop receives a call from her brother (Ramesh Thilak), who says that their ailing mother wants to meet her one last time. It is then revealed that the female cop is in fact Anbu, and all the incidents earlier were from their past (sometime after 1997). It is shown that Anbu had also seen her mom with Ganesan on that day, but in contrast to what her brother did, Anbu chose to leave them and has not spoken to her mother since then. In the present (sometime after 2009), Arul tries to convince Anbu to forget the past and says that their mom did such things only for their welfare. But Anbu, who is forever scarred by her mother's actions, is unable to forgive.

Inmai (Bhayaanaka - Fear)Edit

Waheeda (Parvathy Thiruvothu) a rich lady, living in an expensive, art-festooned home in Puducherry, has a visitor named Farooq (Siddharth) who requests for her signature on some documents. Waheeda assumes that he works for her husband. He explains the Calligraphy very well ,the tone of his conversation quickly becomes flirtatious, which interests Waheeda. As the conversation continues, Waheeda receives a call, from which she realizes that Farooq is not who he claims to be. She asks who he is, and Farooq takes her to some flashbacks, which reveal that a young Waheeda (Ammu Abhirami) originally worked as a servant for a rich elderly man named Maraikkayar (Sheimour Roosevelt), who was suffering from a brain tumor. He falls for Waheeda and she marries him, assuming that he will die soon, but he does not. His excitement over the relationship seems to have given him a new lease of life. In her desperation, Waheeda, on the advice of lover Anwar (Pavel Navageethan), turns to Hussein Hojja (Rajesh Balachandran) to summon a djinn to kill Maraikkayar. Despite being warned of the unforgivable consequences of lying to secure a djinn's services, Waheeda lies to Hojja that she was forcefully married off to Maraikkayar and was being tortured by him, so she wants him to die.

Now, in the present it is implied that Farooq is the djinn manifested as a human being, who has come to seek its revenge for Waheeda’s deception. Waheeda is terrified at this revelation, and in a desperate sequence, she begs for forgiveness, reeling off all the good deeds she has supposedly performed since then, in atonement for what she did. But secretly, she realizes that there is no escape, since she did not pay heed to Hojja's warning back then. She slashes her own throat to escape the horror that the djinn is about to unleash on her. Farooq uses his calligraphy knowledge to forge Waheeda's signature on the documents and explains the truth to her as she bleeds out on the floor. He reveals that Maraikkayar was definitely on his deathbed and his seeming recovery from his illness was merely a placebo effect before his death. Maraikkayar believed that Waheeda had miraculously cured him, but in reality, his tumor grew dormant because of the placebo effect. Meanwhile, one of Maraikkayar’s servants, Jaffar (R. Vadivelu), finds about Waheeda's black magic. Maraikkayar, on the other hand, began having hallucinations because of the tumor's malignancy, but Waheeda believed that the djinn's black magic actually worked. Soon, Maraikkayar died, and Waheeda, now in full control, fired Jaffar by accusing him of robbery, since he was the only person aware of the truth. This disgrace was too much for an honest man to bear, and Jaffar subsequently died of a heart attack, leaving behind his many daughters and an only son, revealed to be Farooq. It is shown that Farooq had plotted all the events leading to Waheeda's apparent suicide in order to avenge his father's wrongful death.

Thunintha Pin (Veera - Valour)Edit

This story is set in the backdrop of the Naxalite insurgency in Tamil Nadu. Vetri (Atharvaa), a freshman in the state's Special Task Force, is involved in an anti-Naxal operation in Sathyamangalam forest. After Commander Chakravarthy (Azhagam Perumal) and eight other soldiers are killed in action, Vetri is asked to produce an injured Naxalite (Kishore) at the military base. He finds that the Naxal, who calls himself as "Comrade", needs urgent medical help. Vetri stops his jeep at a hospital in Perundalaiyur and enters the building to alert the staff. When he comes out, Comrade is missing. After frantically searching inside the building, he finds Comrade with a carton of medical supplies. He almost shoots the latter, but when he reopens his eyes, Comrade is not there. Vetri finds that he has taken his jeep. At a point in the forest, he finds Comrade riding the vehicle along with another Naxalite. He pursues them with an angry scream, ending the story in a cliffhanger.

Guitar Kambi Mele Nindru (Shringaara - Romance)Edit

Kamal (Suriya) is an up-and-coming musician based in Chennai. Having been only on the verge of success for quite a while, Kamal believes that he must leave the country for new opportunities to explore the full potential of his talent. His mother supports him in his dream. He meets Nethra (Prayaga Martin), a singer, during one of his recording sessions. They have an instant connection, and sparks fly from the very moment they lay their eyes on each other. As fate would have it, they subsequently meet again later in the day and Nethra accepts Kamal's request to drop her home on his bike. During the bike ride, they talk about how similar their interests are and about the effortless connection they have. At the end of the ride, Nethra confesses that she likes Kamal and is willing to date him to see if this could potentially become a serious relationship. Kamal is initially hesitant because of the age difference between them, but he is unable to refuse the obvious vibe that he shares with Nethra and agrees to give it a shot. He instantly composes a song to celebrate this special moment and sings it for her and she enjoys it immensely. At the end of the song, Kamal is seen to be performing in front of an audience, when he reveals that, while this was the story of how the song was composed, the girl (Nethra) whom he wrote it for, is not together with him anymore.

CastEdit

Edhiri Summer of '92 Project Agni
  • Vijay Sethupathi as Dheena, a man who kills Sivaraman to avenge his brother's suicide
  • Revathi as Savithri
  • Prakash Raj as Sivaraman, a murdered man who later manifests as Dheena's hatred
  • Ashok Selvan as Varun, Savithri's son
  • Sai Tamhankar as Malli, Dheena's wife
  • Vivek Prasanna as Dorai, Dheena's friend
  • Saraswati Menon as Seema
  • Anusha Prabhu as Maid
  • Saranya Ravichandran as Malli's friend
  • Arvind Swami as Vishnu, a scientist who studies the universe and time
  • Prasanna as Krishna, Vishnu's friend
  • Sai Siddharth as Kalki, Vishnu's evil assistant
  • Poorna as Lakshmi, Krishna's wife
Payasam Peace Roudhram
Inmai Thunintha Pin Guitar Kambi Mele Nindru
  • Siddharth as Farooq aka Djinn, a calligrapher who wants to avenge his father's death
  • Parvathy Thiruvothu as Waheeda, a rich woman who wanted to kill Maraikkayar
  • Ammu Abhirami as Young Waheeda
  • Sheimour Roosevelt as Maraikkayar, an old man who marries Waheeda
  • Rajesh Balachandran as Hussein Hojja
  • Pavel Navageethan as Anwar, Waheeda's lover
  • R. Vadivelu as Jaffar, Maraikkayar's servant and Farooq's father

ProductionEdit

DevelopmentEdit

Navarasa marks the digital debut of Mani Ratnam and his production company Madras Talkies. Both Mani Ratnam and Jayendra jointly worked on fundraising activities for social causes, and during COVID-19 pandemic, Mani and Jayendra decided to work on a project based on the Indian aesthetics and human emotions, which they looked as an opportunity to generate enough funds to help the daily-wage workers.[14] The project was initially intended to made as a web series instead of a feature film, due to the non-existent theatrical releases because of the pandemic and as the series being a nine-part anthology cannot be made into a feature film format for theatrical release, since the anthology has 30–40 minutes per story and emotion.[15]

In July 2020, it was reported that Fahadh Faasil, Suriya and Vijay Sethupathi and Arvind Swami will be a part of the series, with the latter making his directorial debut by handling the direction duties for one episode of the series.[16] Madras Talkies discussed the project with both Amazon Prime and Netflix, before confirming the project was to be made in conjunction with the latter during September 2020.[17][18] On 28 October 2020, Netflix announced the project officially, revealing the cast and crew members working on the project,[19] which will be bankrolled by Mani Ratnam, along with Jayendra Panchapakesan.[20][21] Mani and Jayendra spoke to the respective directors via phone call, who were ready to work on the project, starting from young to experienced directors, though both of them did not direct any films for the anthology. The casting of the film were also made by the directors of the individual films while also being advised from Mani and Jayendra.[15][22]

The artists, technicians and directors of the series are contributing towards the film without remuneration, with only the costs of production being associated. The profits earned from the project will be donated to the members of the Film Employees Federation of South India (FEFSI), who were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.[23] In the process, the team started distributing prepaid cards to the workers from the end of March 2021 onwards, with each beneficiary receiving ₹1,500 per month on the prepaid card for a period of five months, which can be utilised at grocery outlets. FEFSI worked on with Bhoomika Trust for six months to identify the beneficiaries of the initiative, in which the cards will be received 10,500 FEFSI members and 1,000 theatre projectionists, according to Jayendra in The News Minute interview.[24][25]

FilmingEdit

The series began filming from October 2020, after the Indian government announced relaxations following the COVID-19 lockdown. The first episode featuring Siddharth and Parvathy Thiruovthu, was kickstarted on the same month. Directed by Rathindran Prasad, the episode was completed within six days in Pondicherry.[26][27] In November 2020, cinematographer P. C. Sreeram tweeted about the second anthology featuring Suriya and directed by Gautham Menon.[28] The shooting which was commenced in Chennai, featured Suriya sporting a long hair for the segment.[29][30] The segment also marked Suriya's reunion with Menon after a decade-long gap,[31] whose last collaboration was Vaaranam Aayiram (2008).[32] The filming was wrapped up within five days.[33] Reports have suggested that the segment's title with Suriya will play a musician,[34] is based on a popular Ilaiyaraaja song, for which Menon had sought permission from the composer to use the title.[35] However, the segment's title was later revealed as Guitar Kambi Mele Nindru.[36][37]

Karthick Naren began filming for his segment featuring Arvind Swamy , Prasanna and Shamna Kasim in December 2020.[citation needed] Halitha Shameem was replaced by Sarjun KM as the director as she exited the project due to busy schedules. His anthology starred Atharvaa in the lead along with Anjali and Kishore in supporting roles.[38] In January 2021, veteran filmmaker Priyadarshan announced his part in the project replacing Ponram, whose segment features Yogi Babu in the lead.[39] Further, Vasanth replaced K. V. Anand following his death, in another segment featuring Aditi Balan in the lead,[40] which marked Vasanth's reunion with Mani Ratnam after 24 years.[41] The shooting which began in Karaikkudi in March 2021 was wrapped up within a week.[40] After the series completion, Mani Ratnam and Jayendra felicitated an event to honour the FEFSI workers on 28 March 2021.[42]

Three segments by directors that had initially been announced, were dropped during the production stage. Ponram's Town Bus featuring Gautham Karthik, Robo Shankar and Saravanan, was shot and completed in Kodaikanal during October 2020.[43][44] However, the episode was later not included in the anthology.[39] Halitha Shameem opted out from her commitments for the series during December 2020.[38] In March 2021, K. V. Anand's proposed episode starring Vikranth and Aishwarya Rajesh was also later cancelled.[40]

MusicEdit

The soundtrack and background music is composed by A. R. Rahman, Santhosh Narayanan, Sundaramurthy K. S., Rajesh Murugesan, Karthik, Ron Ethan Yohann, Govind Vasantha and Justin Prabhakaran[45] and featured lyrics written by Madhan Karky, Uma Devi and Soundararajan.[46]

Marketing and releaseEdit

Navarasa was one of the most anticipated Indian projects releasing through digital streaming service[47] and also the second big-budget Tamil original from Netflix, after Jagame Thandhiram which was distributed by the platform.[48][49] Netflix India released few snippets featuring Suriya, Vijay Sethupathi, Aravind Swami, Parvathy and Siddharth on 3 March 2021, during the announcement of their original contents for the year.[50] The series was scheduled to release in May 2021,[51] but the makers postponed the release to August 2021, due to the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic with the rise of COVID-19 cases across Tamil Nadu,[citation needed] and Netflix too prioritised their commitments to release Jagame Thandhiram on 18 June 2021, which also being one of the factors for the series' delay.[52] In June 2021, cinematographer P. C. Sreeram tweeted about the release of the series, but he deleted the tweet later.[53]

The Indian Express and many other sources pointed that Navarasa will release on 6 August 2021,[52][54] However, the makers later scheduled the release as 9 August 2021,[55] due to Mani Ratnam and Jayendra's idea that the date coincided with the number "nine", which was the common factor for the series.[15][14] Netflix later confirmed the previous release date of 6 August 2021.[56][57] On 7 July 2021,[58] as a part of the marketing campaign, Ananda Vikatan magazine released exclusive stills from the nine short films revealing the title and cast members.[59][60] Further, the magazine had dedicated a special article for the series and the details about the anthology films for their issue dated 14 July 2021,[61] which was released online on 8 July 2021.[59][62] The official teaser of Navarasa directed and edited by Bharat Bala, which featured an original score by A. R. Rahman, released on 9 July 2021.[56][63] The promo was cinematographed by Sudeep Elamon and Vijay Kartik Kannan and used Bolt High-Speed CineBot, Phantom Camera and Zeiss supreme prime lenses stereovision camera, to shoot the promo using motion capture technology.[64][65][66] The official emoji for the series was released before the trailer launch on 27 July 2021, which is the first time for a South Indian web series.[67][68]

The posters for each anthology were released before the official premiere, starting from 28 July 2021.[69] Ahead of the film's screening, the title logo was showcased at Burj Khalifa, Dubai on 5 August 2021, which is the first time for a Tamil web series.[70]

ControversiesEdit

Summer of '92, the second film in the anthology, has been criticized for its elitist, casteist undertones[71] - portraying Dalits in poor light and for referring to a Christian priest in a derogatory manner.[72][73][74] The protagonist, likely Dalit, is referred by dominant caste and Brahmin characters as "panni munji" (pig face) and "sandala" (a casteist slur). The protagonist loses control of a situation and brings an excrement-covered dog in contact with a Brahmin family who apparently cannot tolerate even well-bathed animals. Carnatic vocalist and activist T. M. Krishna called the film "truly disgusting, insensitive, casteist and body shaming. Nothing to laugh about. We cannot make films like this in 2021 (sic) Just not done! [...] This film would have worked to show disgust (bhibatsam) towards our society".[75]

A newspaper poster for the seventh film Inmai, was opposed by Raza Academy for publishing a verse of the Quran.[76][77]

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit