When will Vemal ever find a job? In his films, that is. In nearly all of them, he plays the ‘Carefree Youngster’ (read: unemployed wastrel). The typecasting is unfortunate, one would think, but he has no problem with it. With Mapla Singam, everything from the title and its graphics, to the stills and songs tell us what to expect. Flashy clothes, the introductory bar song, the kuthu song drill, the comedian playing the ‘one-liner vending machine’. Mapla Singam is another run-of-the-mill comedy set in a village.
Mapla Singam is set in a regressive rural community. The denizens are obsessed with caste. It infiltrates everything they do. The village chief advises the villagers to stop girls from studying beyond 5th standard. Anbu (Vemal) is the moral policeman of the village. He makes sure women do not marry the man they want to marry. Because nothing is more important than caste. His uncle is the village chief (Radha Ravi), a corrupt and racist man. In all fairness, most of the characters are corrupt and racist. Anbu then falls in love with Shailaja (Anjali), a smart lawyer. The family have a problem with this. By now, we know just where the story is going, and how it’s going to end.
It’s as though the director deliberately wanted us to dislike the male characters. Everyone is sexist. One character says, “Pombala pullaya adaka odhukama iru” (Be a woman who is well mannered and submissive). Women don’t need to be asked about their own marriages. Because, “once we start giving them such space, they will start demanding it every time”. The men in the film have one main task. Making sure women don’t have a chance to grow.
Usually, in such films, the casteist elder magically repents and becomes ‘good’ at the end. Here, director Rajasekar does away with such niceties. The bad guy remains bad. Filled with even more angry vengeance by the time the end comes around.
All this casteism is masked under a veil of comedy. This particular comedy takes the form of Vemal’s best man Soori doing his duty. His sole comic attempts lie in pronouncing English words differently. So ‘tomato’ become ‘domoto’, ‘possible’ becomes ‘pajibil’ and we become numb to his brand of comedy. With the wastrel friends is also English actor Adam Greig, strongly reminiscent of Shaggy from Scooby Doo. He is probably the only sensible male in the film, the only one who questions the villagers’ weird practices. Of course, nobody bothers to answer him. The reply he gets is at the level of, “I will tear your passport.”
Credit to the director for one thing: the way the female characters have been written. Both Anjali and Madhulima play level headed, sensible women who try to break the stigma against educated women in their society. But, somehow, it does nothing to change the overall mood of Maple Singam. The end credits show Sivakarthikeyan recording a song in the film. We can’t help but think: ‘Birds of a feather, flock together.’
The Mapla Singam 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.