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Review Tamil

Nenjam Marappathillai review: A wildly amusing but predictable horror thriller

Release Date: 05 Mar 2021 / Rated: U/A

Cinestaan Rating

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Haricharan Pudipeddi

Though the film treads a familiar path as a horror thriller, it stands out on account of some eccentric writing that only Selvaraghavan could do justice to.

When Nenjam Marappathillai was announced five years ago, it felt like it was filmmaker’s Selvaraghavan’s turn to ride on the horror movie wave that had gripped Tamil cinema. Little did anyone expect that the film, which has finally been released after its share of setbacks, would turn out to be a one-of-its-kind horror story experience. Though Nenjam Marappathillai treads a familiar path as a horror thriller, it stands out because of some eccentric writing that only Selvaraghavan could do justice to. 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 with a heart of gold who was raised in an orphanage. 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 for her so much that he doesn’t hesitate to take the extreme step. What follows forms the crux of the story.

In what can best be described as Selvaraghavan’s return to form, 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.

While the film works due to Selvaraghavan’s quirky vision, it equally belongs to SJ Suryah, who makes it unimaginably funny with his over-the-top performance that works quite well for the film. I’m not sure the same kind of performance by any other actor would have had a similar impact on the film.

Regina Cassandra, who was impressive in the recently released Vishal-starrer Chakra (2021), 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 used effectively towards the end.

What’s refreshing about Nenjam Marappathillai is that it is devoid of the usual stereotypes one associates with horror movies. We don’t get those creaking doors and close-ups of the ghost on a character’s face. We still get some predictable moments, but the way Selva treats them make for an engaging watch.

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