Cast: Siddharth, GV Prakash Kumar, Lijimol Jose, Dheepa Ramanujam, Kashmira Pardeshi, Dhanam
Music: Siddhu Kumar
There’s amma sentiment, thangachi sentiment but there hasn’t been a decent mama-machan sentiment movie in a while now. Enter Sivappu Manjal Pachai.
SMP is a well-intentioned movie with a decent dose of family drama, a genre I miss in Tamil cinema today. But, it gets a bit too lost in its own world, and, for some reason, the writers seem to have been compelled into introducing a very early 2000s-style random villain (I remembered the golden days of Ashish Vidyarthi while watching this). In a universe where its two leads Raj (Siddharth as a traffic sergeant) and Madhan (GV Prakash Kumar as a bike racer on the streets of Chennai) are murky grey, its actual villain is just too cinematic and unbelievable (he’s a drug smuggler who walks into a senior police officer’s office and threatens a cop with a gun to his head). Too silly.
Madhan and Raj loathe each other. The former puts other people’s lives at risk (along with his own) by racing on the streets, while the latter catches Madhan and ‘humiliates’ him by making him wear a nightie and uploading a video of him in the said dress, while parading him to the station, on YouTube. Enter the film’s most vivacious character. Madhan and Poonai or Raji’s (Lijimol Jose) aunt played by Dhanam of Nakkalites fame. She manages to set up an arranged marriage meeting between Raji and Raj. They seem to hit it off much to Madhan’s angst (poor guy, I was rooting for him). And then, the film enters familiar Nerukkur Ner-Agni Natchathiram territory for a while as the two try to trip each other up. (They obviously unite later to vanquish their common enemy.)
What makes for good on-screen drama is, of course, how well a film plays on the tensions and social pressures on its characters. Sivappu Manjal Pachai gets a lot of that right. The relationship between the siblings is pretty sweet as is the relationship between Raj and Raji, though it feels very sudden. The movie begins with the line ‘Thambi udaiyaan‘ and then goes on to show us that Madhan (who’s younger) has signed Raji’s report card as her guardian. In another, he asks her to promise that she’ll only marry someone he approves of. There’s one scene in the film that is too sappy but is written to actually point out what an unequal relationship this whole ‘mama-machan’ thing is. Raj’s own brother asks him to let Madhan go to jail or race, “Who’s he to you? He’s not your own brother right?”‘ he asks. The unsaid question there is, he’s just your wife’s brother. It’s not belaboured, but it’s there. Raj’s mother (Dheepa Ramanujam), thankfully, is not the Tamil-serial variety mother-in-law. In fact, she gets the best line of the movie – she points out to Raj that he must think very lowly of women and their clothes for parading someone in them and uploading it to ‘humiliate’ them. Raji’s role is a very interesting, well-thought one, and reminded me of Indhuja from Meyadha Maan. Even tMadhan’s love interest, who, in a regular film, would have been relegated to a no-good role, exists for a reason. Not just so GV Prakash’s character needs a heroine. These thoughtful touches take the movie up a few notches in my opinion.
Siddharth looks every bit a cop and delivers emotions even with a poker-face, while GV Prakash lives his role very convincingly. They seem to have rewritten some lines at the dubbing table, and it shows – they are mouthing one thing and saying something else altogether.
It’s a bit longer than I’d have liked, but I actually didn’t mind Sivappu Manjal Pachai.
The Sivappu Manjal Pachai review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.