Building Tension, Only to Lose Grip
By Malini Mannath | Express Features | Published: 25th January 2014 08:04 AM |
Film - Malini 22 Palayamkottai (Tamil)
Cast- Nithya Menen, krish J Sathar, Naresh, Kotta Srinivasrao, Janaki, Anjali Rao.
Having directed about four films in the past, 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 fall for each other, she bowled over by his charm. But an 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 (Naresh), Varun’s boss, 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, ‘F*** 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 songs that distract one and slacken the pace. The Kovai Sarala brand of comedy too shouldn’t have been a part of a film of this genre. The scenes in jail where Malini gets support and help from her hardcore cellmate (Janaki) aren’t quite convincing.
What follows, of her militant boss and his men aiding her in her vendetta plot, doesn’t quite jell. 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 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 actress otherwise, has this air of confidence throughout and is dressed smartly too. So the inner and outer transformations hardly reveal 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 sides of Varun with fair competence. With the intensity and focus missing here, it is a disappointing fare. Comparisons are odious, but inevitable.
The Verdict: This version not just falls short of the earlier one, but fails to grip one, even when viewed on it’s own merits.