A newlywed woman goes through sleepless nights because she cannot stand her husband’s high-decibel snoring. One night, she tapes it and plays it for him. The next night, the husband sacrifices his sleep, and watches her sleep peacefully in the other room. Malai Nerathu Mayakkam has several moments which beautifully show the relationship between a man and a woman who are forced to marry, and then look for love from each other.
Prabhu (Balakrishna Kola) plays a typical Selvaraghavan hero – bespectacled, inexpressive, not great-looking. An underdog, or less charitably, a ‘loser’. Prabhu is a man-child who has been schooled by his father. He has no clue about women. Marriage is the only way for someone like him to meet a woman, and the only avenue for him to explore his sexuality. Regrettably, the hero is an all too familiar figure in conservative India. Manoja (Wamiqa Gabbi), on the other hand, is a strong-willed woman who believes in true love. She isn’t someone who would sleep with her husband just because they are married. What happens when these two are married forms the plot of Malai Nerathu Mayakkam.
The film touches upon aspects of marital life that few films have done before, exploring themes of compatibility, understanding, and sexual intimacy. Graphic dialogues and scenes will leave certain sections of the audience cringing. But in a country where marital rape is not a criminal offense, a film like this is absolutely necessary. Malai Nerathu Mayakkam convincingly explores the issue of marriage and ownership. Some men in the audience jeered at the lead character, in scenes where she talks about marital rape. All the more reason to make a film about how marriage doesn’t mean that one person ‘owns’ their spouse. That it isn’t licence to dictate what another human being should do.
Malai Nerathu Mayakkam’s biggest flaw is the characters and their inconsistencies. The heroine’s mother is initially liberal-minded. She frankly discusses her daughter’s boyfriend with her. She tells her that the boyfriend is ‘mokka’ and not worth pursuing. Later, the same mother emotionally blackmails her into an arranged marriage. Almost everyone in the film speaks in a tone devoid of modulation or emotion. The hero has the usual sidekicks who accompany him during the ‘bar song’ and call the heroine a ‘super figure’. Manoja seems to like him at certain points, but then rejects his advances. These internal contradictions confuse the audience.
For a director in a creative field, it’s baffling that all of Selvaraghavan’s male leads follow the exact same template. Bespectacled, awkward, and social outcasts. The dialogues and delivery are carbon copies of Dhanush’s dialogue and delivery in Kadhal Konden. Or Ravikrishna’s in 7G Rainbow Colony. The screenplay is two hours long, and full of tiring, repetitive scenes. And while Amrit’s music in the title track is a breath of fresh air, the background score in the initial scenes don’t cohere with the scene content. It’s as if the music director decided to leave the ‘demo’ button on his keyboard running.
The real hero of the film is Wamiqa Gabbi, who carries the film on her shoulders with a terrific performance. She might be North Indian, but her lip sync is perfect. Despite the fact that her role is limited to being upset and angry, she manages to convey a range of expressions. We sympathise with her, but neither do we dislike Prabhu, who has his own reasons for being the insensitive husband.
While the story is bold and necessary, the mundane dialogues and screenplay will leave audiences disappointed.
The Malai Nerathu Mayakkam review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.