Sivappu Manjal Pachai movie cast: Siddharth, GV Prakash Kumar, Lijomol Jose
Sivappu Manjal Pachai movie director: Sasi
Sivappu Manjal Pachai movie rating: 2 stars
Sivappu Manjal Pachai is largely a simple brother-sister story. The film opens with a young Madhan and Raji being there for each other. Madhan is extremely protective of Raji, plaits her hair, buys her sanitary napkins and so on. Raji equally adores Madhan. She is almost his mother. He is almost her father. They grow up without parents and this is explained quite well in a scene. In the school, a teacher asks Madhan, “Why did you sign Raji’s report card?” He says, “I am her father, and it’s alright if I do that.” I am not sure if a child can actually say this for his age, but this is how Sasi wants his characters to speak. Madhan refers to Raji as “Poonai” as she is scared of cats. In later scenes, she overcomes that, too.
Sasi’s films have always been about human relationships. His last film, Pichaikkaran, starring Vijay Antony, was, in fact, about a mother and a son. The story of Sivappu Manjal Pachai revolves around the lives of traffic cop Rajasekhar (Siddharth) and his brother-in-law Madhan (GV Prakash Kumar). Sasi wants Sivappu Manjal Pachai to be a family drama. At the same time, he brings in thriller elements. That’s when you question the motive behind him making such a film in 2019. Had Sasi made Sivappu Manjal Pachai around the late 80s, it would have been perfect as the script is filled with a generous dose of Amma and Thangachi sentiments.
Madhan is too possessive of Raji that he doesn’t let her think for herself. He believes ONLY he can think the best for Raji. Sasi takes us into the universe of Madhan and Raji. The narration is straightforward. Rajasekhar humiliates Madhan. (Read: Suggests him to wear a nightie, drags him to a police jeep, in front of everyone, and uploads the same on YouTube). So, he doesn’t want Raji to fall for Rajasekhar. Madhan does everything possible to make sure Raji and Rajasekhar don’t marry. But fate (Read: Sasi) unites them.
The setting up of the romance between Rajasekhar and Raji is natural. But the problem is, Madhan takes the word “Poonai” too seriously, ‘tames’ Raji and expects she should listen to him all the time. (Actually, cats aren’t obedient like dogs). When Raji does the opposite, conflicts arise. Madhan doesn’t talk to Raji. But Raji wishes Madhan talks. Madhan doesn’t believe in conflict resolution, and that’s what reduces this well-intentioned family drama to an average yawn-inducing film. But the writing is great in a few places. There’s life in Sasi’s characters.
Siddharth shines in the role of a traffic police officer, displaying an honest body language. GV Prakash Kumar remains GV Prakash Kumar in Sivappu Manjal Pachai.
What I liked more about the film is Dheepa Ramanujam’s character. She makes Rajasekhar understand the importance of human relationships and makes interesting observations about how one perceives ‘gender’. (I don’t want to tell what it is.) Such endearing non-melodramatic mother characters are rare in Tamil cinema.
Some portions keep you engaged, at least in the early bits. Slowly, light-heartedness gives way to familiar emotional tropes and Sivappu Manjal Pachai gets predictable. Sasi has attempted to fine-tune his craft, in sync with the changing times, but doesn’t succeed.
It’s important that a filmmaker stays relevant because of the ever-changing rules of the game. That’s why someone like Mani Ratnam still matters and is considered a big deal. He directed Pagal Nilavu in 1985, helmed Thalapathy in 1991 and an OK Kanmani in 2015. It’s amazing how his making style remains intact over all these years. You may say Mani Ratnam is overrated, but not at all. He is what he is and there is a reason we celebrate his films.