Malini 22 Palayamkottai is Remake Sans Focus, Conviction or Intensity
Film: Malini 22 Palayamkottai
Cast: Nithya Menen, krish J Sathar, Naresh, Kotta Srinivasrao, Janaki, Anjali Rao
Having directed about four films in the past, actor Sripriya returns to direction after an 18-year hiatus. A home production, Malini 22 Palayamkottai, is the remake of the acclaimed Malayalam film 22 Female Kottayam.
While sticking to the crucial episodes in the plot, the director has tweaked the screenplay and made some changes for Tamil audiences. But this in no way helps the film, and only works to its detriment.
The plot breaks away from stereotyped characters and incidents. It takes inspiration from various films, like the Urmila Matondkar-starrer Ek Hasina Thi and the English Hard Candy. It centres on a small town girl Malini (Nithya) who works as a nurse in a Chennai hospital. She meets Varun (Krish), a consultant, regarding her visa for a job in Canada. The duo falls for each other and she is bowled over by his charm. But the ugly truth surfaces and what follows is the fury of a woman wronged. The story opens with Malini arrested and convicted for possession of drugs.
It goes into a flashback depicting a story of seduction, manipulation and treachery. There are some violent, horrific moments and dialogue meant for an adult audience (surprisingly It’s got a ‘U’ certificate). Like the rape scenes where Prakash Varun’s boss ( Naresh), coolly asks the nurse without beating about the bush, whether he could have sex with her. And the violence that follows. And the one where Malini takes her ultimate revenge on the man, who had used and betrayed her. His furious outburst with an expletive “**** you!’, she answers with a cool ‘not anymore!’ The earlier version had a taut screenplay and pacy narration. But here, the director has added a few song numbers that distract one and slackens the pace.
The Kovai Sarala brand of comedy too shouldn’t have been a part of a film of this genre. The scenes at the jail, where Malini gets help from her hardcore cellmate (Janaki), isn’t quite convincing.
What follows, of her militant boss and his men aiding her in her vendetta plot, doesn’t quite gel. The earlier version had a more reasonable depiction of these episodes. Also, the final moment was intriguing, different and open-ended—a break from the usual ending to a vendetta story. But, here it’s the usual predictable one.
Rima Kallingal, in the earlier version, had brought in a lot of intensity and conviction to the role of the wronged woman. She had excellently brought out the transformation of a naive, simple small town girl, into a tough hardened woman. But the transformation is hardly visible here. Nithya, a consummate actor otherwise, has this air of confidence throughout, and is dressed smartly too.
So, the inner and outer transformation hardly reveals her character in a new light, except for the femme fatale make-up in the later scenes. It’s a promising debut in Tamil for Krish (son of actors Jayabharathi-Sathar), who reflects both the positive and negative side of Varun with fair competence. With the intensity and focus missing here, it is a disappointing fare. Comparisons are odious, but inevitable. This version not just falls short of the earlier one, but also fails to be gripping, even when viewed on its own merits.