Updated: March 19, 2021 9:55:12 am
Nenjam Marappathillai cast: SJ Suryah, Regina Cassandra, Nandita Swetha
Nenjam Marappathillai director: Selvaraghavan
Nenjam Marappathillai rating: 3 stars
It has been a long wait to see director Selvaraghavan’s Nenjam Marappathillai in theatres. The film was stuck in a limbo for about four years for a host of reasons, which were beyond the control of the director. So was the film worth the years’ anticipation, eagerness, and wait? For a cinephile, the answer is a resounding yes.
Nenjam Marappathillai is an unusual film; it is also a Selvaraghavan film. It would be silly for us to buy a ticket for a Selvaraghavan film, expecting to see a straight-forward narration without surreal themes and metaphorical reality. I believe this director outgrew that phase in his artistic evolution when he made Aayirathil Oruvan over a decade ago.
The main premise of Nenjam Marappathillai is a classic good versus evil, or rather the God versus the Devil. It sort of feels like a variation of director Taylor Hackford’s The Devil’s Advocate. Vanity is definitely the devil’s favourite sin. And Selvaraghavan takes us on a trippy journey to show, how an empty heart is devil’s workshop.
Ramsay, alias Ramaswamy, (played by a terrific SJ Suryah) was born into poverty and he grew up impoverished. He now runs a huge business and employs thousands of people. No, it is not a rags-to-riches story filled with plenty of inspiring moments. Shruti (Nandita Swetha) falls head over heels in love with Ramsay, who worked at her father’s factory. Married into money, he splurges his recently acquired wealth on expensive things. His narcissism is powered by ego and greed. And he is willing to kill anyone who poses even the slightest threat to his bottomless vanity.
Entre, Mariam (Regina Cassandra). She is a god’s child. And she walks straight into the web of the devil when she takes up a caretaker job at Ramsay’s house. Ramsay feels a sense of overwhelming lust the first time he lays his eyes on her. And what follows is a case of workplace harassment that demonstrates how the society and the family enables sexual perverts.
Selvaraghavan, however, pulls his punches at times. For example, the movie and the narration could have benefited from the director elaborating on Ramsay’s morning routine, which he uses to pamper his toxic masculinity.
That said, Nenjam Marappathillai is what a director might find when he goes to the shooting with a vow to not follow the script. Instead, he rolls up his sleeves, and goes to work with his crew, determined to create something more wonderful, and tangible than what his mind imagined in the writer’s room. While watching the film, I could imagine Selvaraghavan working with his actors, guiding them, imbuing them with emotions and ideas, helping each of them to deliver a realized performance. SJ Suryah’s performance in the scenes where he channels Ramsay’s raging lust for Mariam is so entertaining.
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