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Nenjam Marappathillai Review: Selvaraghavan's take on greed, lust, love and spirituality

Modified On: 05 March 2021 | Reviewed By:

S J Suriyah with his over-the-top performance that works quite well in the film’s favour.

Nenjam Marappathillai

Director: K. Selvaraghavan | Music Director: Yuvan Shankar Raja

Nenjam Marappathillai Movie Poster

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Cast: SJ Suryah, Regina Cassandra and Nandita Swetha

Director: Selvaraghavan

Nenjam Marappathillai was originally announced five years ago, it felt like it was the filmmaker’s Selvaraghavan’s turn to ride on the horror movie wave that had gripped Tamil cinema but the film saw the light. Nenjam Marappathillai is not a usual horror film its Selvaraghavan's taken on this particular genre.

Even though Nenjam Marappathillai travels a very familiar path as a horror-thriller, it stands out because of some eccentric writing which only Selvaraghavan is capable of doing justice. It is this edgy, wildly over-the-top writing that saves the film from drowning in its own predictability.

The film is centred on Mariam (Regina Cassandra), a god-fearing young woman who is raised in an orphanage with a heart of gold. Unlike her ungrateful friends who were raised by the Church; Mariam gives back every penny she earns for the betterment of the orphanage. When she lands a job as a house nanny to the child of a rich couple – Ramsay (SJ Suryah) and his wife Swetha (Nandita); Mariam sees it as an opportunity to earn some big bucks and look after the children in the orphanage. For Ramsay, a conniving man with no ethics; it is lust at first sight when he meets Mariam. He lusts after her so much that he doesn’t even hesitate to take the extreme step. What follows forms the crux of the story.

Nenjam Marappathillai is the filmmaker’s unabashed take on greed, lust, love and spirituality. Selvaraghavan, once again, gives us a hero who is flawed and has no qualms in glorifying his actions. In a crucial scene, Ramsay sits down with his friend and talks about how they lived tension-free once and came up in life by hook or crook. On the surface, it’s a problematic scene but the way Selvaraghavan has treated it with some eccentric writing makes it wildly amusing.

The film is an ode to all the yesteryear films which harks back to the melodramatic performances of Sivaji Ganesan in the 60s and 70s. The character's name Ramsay is also a homage to the Ramsay brothers who were pioneers of low budget horror films in Hindi Cinema. The climactic showdown seems to be an attempt to recreate the balletic stunts of the martial arts movies (though, the execution here is hardly balletic).

SJ Suryah, who makes it unimaginably funny with his over-the-top performance that works quite well in the film’s favour. I’m not sure if the same kind of performance from any other actor would’ve had a similar impact on the film as much as Suryah left. Regina Cassandra, who recently impressed in Vishal starrer Chakra, is incredibly good as Mariam, a role that fits her like a glove. Nandita Swetha’s role is sidelined for the most part of the film but is effectively used towards the end.

Nenjam Marappathillai is that it is devoid of all the usual stereotypes one could associate with horror movies. We don’t get the usual creaking doors and close up of the ghost on a character’s face.

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