Cast: Balakrishna Kola, Wamiqa Gabbi, Sharan
Director: Gitanjali Selvaraghavn
'Maalai Nerathu Mayakkam' is an amorous film that tries to capture some of the more intensely personal aspects of a romance and relationship between a man and a woman. The movie which opens with a statement ‘It's difficult to narrate some love stories... We have tried' is directed by Gitanjali Selvaraghavan - wife of famed director Selvaraghavan and it has all the hallmarks of a Selvaraghavan film but with a slightly balanced and perhaps, feminine touch.
The premise is easy enough to grasp: Manoja (Wamiqa Gabbi ) is pressured into marrying Prabhu (Balakrishna Kola) due to familial obligations but she doesn’t feel much chemistry at all for nearly a year. Prabhu’s personality is probably along the lines of “ISFJ” in the Myers Briggs, and his quietness and simplicity makes him a lot more traditional in character as compared to the bold and outgoing Manoja. Despite Prabhu’s valiant efforts, Manoja hardly reciprocates and she even makes it clear that she is not interested in being his wife on the day of their wedding.
Prabhu eventually realizes the reasons behind her indifference and tries to make amendments by changing his character. Manoja too, to her own surprise, begins to warm to the change in Prabhu’s personality and the director has captured this fleeting moment in a very sublime manner albeit, through the former’s forced ‘falling sick’ scene. But Prabhu screws it up by going overboard on a particular night when, Manoja, intoxicated by alcohol, is raped by her drunken husband. Things spiral out very soon and the couple divorce. But our memories can often be a muse and the duo just seem incapable of letting go of each other. Manoja now faces a hodgepodge of conflicting thoughts: she finds that her attraction to him has genuinely grown, but the memories of the rape are fresh as well. Can she find it in herself to put this incident aside and forgive Prabhu, or is some part of her going to remain broken forever?
Maalai Nerathu Mayakkam has all the elements of a Selvaraghavan film, but the bluntness is moderated a bit by Gitanjali’s direction. Mom and daughter have conversations about sex that are seldom found in Kollywood films. Manoja’s exes are portrayed with the hedonistic excess that they crave, but yet the scenes are more suggestive rather than explicit about this fact. At the same time though, one may find it hard to sympathize with the emotions that Manoja had to experience. The restitution between the duo after the rape incident is very disjointed. And too many repetitive scenes also mars the narration. For these reasons, the film wavers in its engagement factor. Even the climax scenes, which are exaggerated, could have been better. While Balakrishna fits the role of nerd and just done what was expected out of him. Wamiqa with her good looks and an equally impressive performance delivers. Sharan in a role with grey shades shine in a limited scope. Amrit’s music goes well with the mood of the film.