Review: Nenjam Marapathillai

Nenjam Marapathillai starts as a drama, develops into a crime story, and ends as a supernatural thriller. The plot might be cliched, the treatment isn’t!

Nenjam Marapathillai review

Film : Nenjam Marapathillai
Director: Selvaraghavan
Cast: SJ Suryah, Regina Cassandra, Nandita Shwetha and others
Music: Yuvan Shankar Raja
Cinematographer: Arvind Krishna

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Synopsis: Ramasamy alias Ramsay( S J Suryah) is what the rich would call ‘new money’ or  ‘Pudhu Panakkaran’.  

A wicked businessman, who is deeply ambitious, Ramasamy comes across to those working for him as a generous altruist. Although Ramsay, as he likes to call himself now, has risen to this wealthy and powerful position by wooing and eventually marrying Shwetha (Nandita Shwetha), the daughter of a wealthy businessman, those in the upper classes of society refuse to accept him as one of their own and only choose to look at him for what he really is – a vicious, characterless man who will do anything for money.

His wife Shwetha is everything the daughter of a filthy rich, powerful businessman would be. Arrogant, temperamental, domineering, autocratic and audacious, she commands everybody from the servants in her house to her husband. For her, societal stature and her happiness assume priority over everything else.

It is in this household that Mariam (Regina Cassandra), an attractive young woman from an orphanage, joins as a nanny. Her job is to take care of Rishi, the young son of Ramsay and Shwetha. Mariam, who is everything that one would aspire to be in an ideal world, is good at her job. Kind, committed, disciplined and prayerful, she soon wins over the love of Rishi and the trust of Shwetha. However, that isn’t all. She also catches the eye of Ramsay, who lusts after her.

Lust drives Ramsay to sin. And when one sins, one has to pay the price for it. What sins does Ramsay commit and how does he pay the price for them? Nenjam Marapathillai gives you the answers…

Director Selvaraghavan is back with a bang! Like always, he’s come up with a story from a genre he’s never done before. To be honest, this is one film that can’t be classified under one particular genre. It starts off as a drama, develops into a crime story, and then eventually ends up being a supernatural thriller. The plot might be cliched, but the treatment is not. And that is where Selvaraghavan wins.

The manner in which he seems to have developed this insanely wicked character, Ramsay, is just so entertaining that one tends to take a liking for him, despite knowing fully well, the extent of evil within him. It is not just Ramsay, the other two characters around which the plot revolves, Mariam and Shwetha, too are so well etched out that it is hard not to take note of them.

Ramsay’s character in particular is absolutely refreshing. One cannot recall having seen a character with similar traits in any other Tamil movie until now. He is lustful, evil, ambitious and wicked and yet, at the same time, he is humorous, friendly and a kind boss to his male servants. He commits crime after crime but is absolutely fearless, even while facing supernatural elements (You’ll get to know the reasons for that while watching the film!).

One could go on and on about the way this character has been developed but the credit for this fantastic characterisation must not go to just Selvaraghavan alone. It must go equally to SJ Suryah who plays the character with a flourish. The man seems to have simply relished the opportunity to play such a character and has generously showcased a side that hasn’t been seen before.

Equally impressive is Nandita Shwetha, whose performance in the second half is just as overwhelming as that of SJ Suryah. In particular, there is a sequence when Shwetha gets to know the truth. The transformation she exhibits instantly, from being a docile, fear-ridden mother, into a fear-inducing boss calling the shots, is just mind-blowing. This is easily Nandita Shwetha’s best performance till date.

Regina plays the character of Mariam with considerable ease. For the kind of gifted performer that she is, this character musn’t have been too hard to play.

On the technical front, Selvaraghavan gets ample support from his two trusted lieutenants — Yuvan Shankar Raja and Arvind Krishna. Nenjam Marapathillai, which brought Yuvan and Selvaraghavan together again after the two had parted ways over a dispute, seems to have richly benefitted from Yuvan’s music. At various places in the film, the background score is so apt that it enhances the emotion and the message that Selvaraghavan looks to communicate. The background score is so flawless and so integral to the film that you don’t even realise that it is a separate entity! In most parts, you, without realising it, accept it as part of the story.

What Yuvan does for the film with his background score, Arvind Krishna does it with his camera. Sequences which would have been otherwise difficult to communicate have all been simplified, thanks to Arvind’s brilliant camera work. For instance, there are a series of scenes in which Ramsay imagines Mariam’s responses to his advances. While he imagines some responses, what actually happens is something else. Both sets of scenes (what he imagines and what actually happens) are beautifully showcased and differentiated by Arvind Krishna’s camerawork. Next, there is also a scene where the camera sees how Ramsay sees. He sees only his wife and child while the servants are all out of focus. These brilliant shots just add value to the narration, making it that much more interesting and engaing.

Nenjam Marapathillai might not have a great story. But the manner in which Selvaraghavan narrates it is what makes it special. That and three brilliant performances — one each from S J Suryah, Regina Cassandra and Nandita Swetha — are what make it a rewarding affair.