Neram (English: Time) is a 2013 Indian bilingual black comedy thriller film written, directed and edited by Alphonse Puthren in his directorial debut. Simultaneously made in Malayalam and Tamil languages, it stars Nivin Pauly, Nazriya Nazim and Bobby Simha in both versions. Supporting roles were played by Manoj K. Jayan, Shammi Thilakan, Lalu Alex, and Willson Joseph in Malayalam, while Nassar, Thambi Ramiah, John Vijay and Shabareesh Varma portrayed the characters in Tamil. The whole film is set within one day in Chennai. The music was scored by debutant Rajesh Murugesan. The Malayalam version released on 10 May 2013, while the Tamil version released on 17 May. The film's both versions received positive reviews upon release and was a commercial success at the box-office.
Posters in Malayalam and Tamil
|Directed by||Alphonse Puthren|
|Produced by||Koral Viswanathan|
|Written by||Alphonse Puthren|
|Music by||Rajesh Murugesan|
|Cinematography||Anend C. Chandran|
|Edited by||Alphonse Puthren|
Winner Bulls Films
|Distributed by||LJ Films (Malayalam)|
Red Giant Movies (Tamil)
|109 minutes (Malayalam)|
117 minutes (Tamil)
|Budget||₹1.5 crore (US$220,000)|
|Box office||₹18 crore (both versions)|
Mathew is a computer engineering graduate but lost his job. His life is a little complicated now because he has taken a loan from a private moneylender named Vatti Raja (Bobby Simha) and is not able to repay the amount because he has no income. Jeena's father Johnykutty (Lalu Alex) (Saravanar in Tamil; played by Thambi Ramaiah) denies her marriage with Mathew as he is jobless. Jeena decides to elope with Mathew, and his friend John (Willson Joseph) (in Tamil played by Shabareesh Varma) gives him the money for paying off his debt to Raja. On their way, Jeena's chain is snatched, and Mathew's money is stolen. Raja calls Mathew and asks him to settle the money within 5PM.
Johnykutty lodges a complaint with Sub-Inspector Ukken Tintu (Shammi Thilakan) (Katta Kunju in Tamil; played by John Vijay) against Mathew on charges of kidnapping Jeena and gives his number. Tintu calls Sanju and tells him that he should come along with Jeena to the police station within 5PM, but problems are yet to come; Mathew's brother-in-law (Joju George) (in Tamil played by Sai Prashanth) asks some amount of money from him to start a business (even that is scheduled for 5PM). On the other hand, Jeena is kidnapped by Raja's men, assuming her to be other man's girlfriend who also has to return money to Raja.
Mathew comes across the same man and decides to snatch his chain, but unfortunately at the moment, he tries to snatch the chain, the man meets with an accident, and Mathew takes him to a hospital. The man's brother RayBan (Manoj K. Jayan) (Dhandapani in Tamil; played by Nassar), who has influence, assures Mathew of a job in his company. Suddenly, Tintu arrives there and says that Raja died in an accident. A flashback reveals that Lighthouse (Ramesh Thilak), the man who stole Jeena's chain and Mathew's money, had borrowed some money from Raja, too. He plots with two others in having the money for themselves and stealing Raja's car. While the plan works out perfectly, Raja's men went behind the car, and Raja goes behind the other man. In the chase, Raja is hit by an auto and dies. Coincidentally, the auto driver (Crane Manohar) was the driver who hit RayBan's brother Manick (Krishna Shankar) (in Tamil played by Ananth Nag) with his vehicle, too.
Last of all, Mathew meets the men who stole his money and involves in a brawl with them. He finds his money and a chain inside the car and also finds Jeena in the car's rear (Raja hid her in his car). Mathew gives the money to his brother-in-law, and the movie ends with a happy note that "Time is of two types: good time and bad time. Good will come following every bad time in life".
Neram marks the feature film debut of Alphonse Putharen. According to Putharen, it was the success of Yuvvh that prompted him to move to the feature film format. He stated that Neram would be a "thriller-cum-black comedy" set in Chennai's Mandaveli, where he had lived for some time. The lead pair of Yuvvh, Nivin Pauly and Nazriya Nazim, was selected to play the lead roles in Neram as well, making their debut in Tamil cinema. Nazriya Nazim replaced Bhama, who was initially cast in the lead female role and had also shot for ten days, but opted out as she became busy with other projects. Putharen decided to shoot it simultaneously in Tamil and Malayalam. He modified the Malayalam version and filmed it with an entirely different cast, retaining only the lead pair in both versions. Rajesh Murugesan, who had worked with Putharen on his short films, was chosen as the film's composer, also making his feature film debut.
The crew began filming by mid-2012, which was first held across various parts of Tamil Nadu, and later in Chennai. Shooting was further carried out in Chennai in August 2012, with Bhama's portions being reshot with Nazriya. In March 2013, Putharen informed that the entire filming had been completed. The film was shot in Malayalam and in Tamil at the same time, which Pauly described as tough and challenging.
Putharen has announced intentions for a Hindi remake to the film which he will direct.
Rajesh Murugesan composed the soundtrack and film score of Neram. A promo song titled "Pistah: The Run Anthem" was released in March 2013 and went viral. The song's meaningless lyrics were taken from a comedy track from Sathyan Anthikkad's film Kinnaram (1983), featuring Jagathy Sreekumar. Nivin Pauly stated that the song was a tribute to Sreekumar, who had met with an accident just over a year before its release. The Tamil audio release was launched by Anirudh Ravichander which the cast and crew attended as well along with the distributor Udhayanidhi Stalin.
|"Thaka Thaka"||Shabareesh Varma|
|"Njan Uyarnu Pogum"||Ranjith|
|"Vaathil Melle"||Sachin Warrier|
|"Evan Avan"||Benny Dayal|
The satellite rights of the film's Tamil version were sold to Sun TV and the rights of the film's Malayalam version was acquired by Mazhavil Manorama. By late March 2013, Udhayanidhi Stalin's Red Giant Movies acquired the film's distribution rights in Tamil Nadu. The film was distributed in Kerala by Lal Jose's LJ Films. Trailers in both languages were released on 19 April 2013. The film released in 73 screens across Kerala and in 200 plus screens in Tamil Nadu. The film was given a "U" certificate by the Indian Censor Board.
- Filmfare Award for Best Debut (Male) - Nivin Pauly
- Filmfare Award for Best Debut (Female) - Nazriya Nazim
Padmakumar K of Malayala Manorama rated the film 2.5 in a scale of 5 and said, "Though the concept is nothing new, the way of presentation and the setting is a merited deviation from the beaten track. The movie is watchable for some surprises it throws up now and then. There are some unseen extraordinary scenes and events not usually seen in Malayalam cinema." The reviewer praised the film's technical aspects, especially Alphonse Putharen's editing and direction, and Anand C. Chandran's camera works. He also praised the acting by Manoj K. Jayan, Simhaa, Shammi Thilakan and Nazriya Nazim while commenting that Pauly "still has to come out of his usual self". Sify.com's critic gave the verdict as "good" and said, "For a debut attempt with lots of fresh faces in its cast and crew, director Alphonse Putharen's Neram could leave you pleasantly surprised. With a rather okay script, the film scores with a brilliant narration, interesting performances, good visuals and peppy music." Aswin J Kumar of The Times of India rated the film 3.5 out of 5 and said, "Neram has a romantic charm, an exciting trait which infuses it with a good measure of likability." Rediff.com's Paresh C Palicha rated the film 2.5 out of 5 and said that "Neram has an interesting narrative but lacks on the humour quotient".
Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) rated the film 4 in a scale of 5 and said, "There is absolutely nothing new about the story, yet what differentiates Neram from other films is its brilliant non-linear screenplay, never seen before in Tamil cinema. The film grows on you very gradually despite its brooding first half, but what follows post interval is top class and is worth every applaud or hoot that came its way." Baradwaj Rangan of The Hindu, while appreciating the film's narrative style and cinematography, commented, "Almost everything is perfect on paper. But something is lost on screen. We feel we should be laughing more, and that there are a few too many flat passages." Malini Mannath of The New Indian Express said that "the light, interesting narrative style and quirky characters makes it [the film] a pleasant one-time watch." N. Venkateswaran of The Times of India rated the film 3.5 in a scale of 5 and said, "Alphonse Putharen is a welcome addition to the new wave of Tamil film directors, and is a sign of the good times ahead for Indian cinema." Mythily Ramachandran of Gulf Times said, "Puthren joins the league of a growing number of young directors in Tamil and Malayalam who are making a mark with their fresh ideas and novel presentation. Neram is a delightful way to while away time." Shanmugan of Oneindia.in said, "Director Alphonse Putharen has created a working plot for Neram. Adding romantic charm and has come up with an enjoyable trait, which is infused with a good measure of likability." Sify.com's gave the verdict as "Good" and concluded the review saying, "Neram is genuinely a good attempt to make something unusual by a group of youngsters, which has to be encouraged.".
The film netted ₹81 lakh (US$120,000) from 73 screens in its opening weekend (10–12 May) in Kerala.
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