Nenjam Marapadhillai - A quirky ride that is reasonable fun while it lasts!
Once you are done watching Nenjam Marapadhillai, you realise that it is exactly what every horror/supernatural film is about. Selvaraghavan tells you the same story but as predictable as the story is, the movie is unlike other films of the genre. Nenjam Marapadhillai keeps it all mixed but is predominantly a black comedy mounted on the supernatural template.
Selva keeps it both simple and experimental in Nenjam Marapadhillai. He doesnt deviate from the age old God vs Satan template but plays around with his characters by giving them these eccentric streaks. And who better than S.J. Suryah to sell the eccentricity on screen. For a while you wonder if the eccentricity is forced with Ramsay aka Ramasamy breaking into English frequently for no apparent reason. But everything falls into place once you hear his backstory. S.J. Suryah as usual is terrific and seems to have had a ball playing Ramsay. As easy as it is to gain the initial attention, over the top performances can easily put you off after sometime. This is where someone like S.J.Suryah who revels in these kind of roles makes all the difference. Regina and Nanditha too are pretty good. Regina in particular is solid in a role that is the only subtle part of the film.
Yuvan Shankar Raja and Arvind Krishna are the other two heroes of Nenjam Marappathillai. For a film that is supposed to have been completed five years ago, it remains relatively fresh, thanks to these two.
The film does pack in a lot under the rather thin one line. The twisted fantasies of Ramsay is a symbol of how much evil can be done with power and privilege on your side. He says that he can get any willing girl with money but sadistically enjoys forcing someone who is unwilling. It is commendable that the portions of Ramsay lusting over Regina sort of makes us uncomfortable without resorting to the usual voyeuristic tendencies.
The film does resort to an easy climax that is sort of rushed and might come across as silly. But it also helps in a way as there is no point in dragging a film that isn't anyway high on emotional connect. The CG also looks a bit dated but that is understandable given the delay in the film's release.
I am not sure if naming the evil character Ramasamy and having a God vs Satan kind of battle in the climax was intentional. But it also seems too obvious to be a mere coincidence. The catch here is that in the real world the God vs Satan battle doesn't directly translate to Good vs Bad. Someone being good or bad has more to do with his/her conscience rather than his/her belief in God.
Nenjam Marappathillai may not be close to Selva's best but it certainly has him in control. The reactions are bound to be polarised like most of his films but what works here is that he keeps it entertaining and has a lead whose antics are enjoyable. Nenjam Marapadhillai might not come together as a whole but the over-the-topness and quirkiness make it a fun ride while it lasts.