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‘Sivappu Manjal Pachai’ movie review: An interesting take on the male ego

Siddharth and GV Prakash Kumar in a still from 'Sivappu Manjal Pachai'.

Siddharth and GV Prakash Kumar in a still from 'Sivappu Manjal Pachai'.  

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The movie isn’t devoid of issues, but the writing is effective to a large extent

How does one make a masala movie without trying too much? Mani Ratnam gave a screenwriting masterclass through the simple-yet-entertaining Agni Natchathiram. Sivappu Manjal Pachai’s framework pays a hit-tip to the movie. There, it was a conflict between two half-brothers over the ownership of the bloodline. Here, it’s a conflict between two brothers-in-law Rajashekar and Madhan (Siddharth and GV Prakash Kumar) over ‘the ownership’ of a woman.

Sivappu Manjal Pachai
  • Cast: Siddharth, GV Prakash Kumar, Lijomol Jose and Kasmira
  • Director: Sasi
  • Storyline: The relationship between a traffic police officer and his brother-in-law is beyond broken. How do they redeem themselves?

Siddharth sheds his ‘chocolate boy’ image to play an astute, hyper-masculine Rajashekar (think of the khaki-clad Prabhu in Agni Natchathiram), a traffic police officer. He’s the youngest to be short-listed for Central Intelligence, but he opts for a less-explored road (no pun intended). His ideology is: ‘Society discriminates, the road doesn’t’. But the class difference is apparent in Sivappu Manjal Pachai, where Rajashekar is the quintessential ‘class’ hero, while Madhan (think of Karthik from Agni Natchathiram, who, coincidentally had his own biker gang) is Mr Local, pandering to the ‘mass audience’ (a derogatory term to divide people). It could have easily become an ‘Us vs Them’ story, but the movie is not about class difference. It’s about the male ego. Take this scene for instance. A police officer ‘humiliates’ a frequent offender by wrapping him in a nightie. The boy’s ego gets pricked — that makes him a man.

Sivappu Manjal Pachai is essentially a male universe, where men try to take authority over women, masquerading under the blanket of love. It could be a husband controlling his wife (Rajashekar saves his wife Rajalakshmi aka Raji’s number as Control Room) or a brother over his sister (Madhan makes everything about Raji on himself). That brother-sister sentiment as seen in any Rajinikanth movie in the ‘80s, where he played the saviour, is reflected through Raji (a wonderfully restrained performance by Lijomol Jose) and Madhan’s relationship.

The film begins with a young Raji and Madhan in school. The latter gets picked up for signing his sister’s rank card. He confronts the teacher and ‘protects’ his sister by saying, “There’s no guardian for us. I’m her father and she’s my mother.” It’s a big statement coming from a child, but that’s how Madhan wants him to be perceived. He doesn’t let her sister think for herself. Raji is constantly referred to as “poonai” because of her fear of cats. In reality, it’s Madhan who’s actually a poonai, for people call him weak, owing to his childlike nature. Watch out for the scene where he crawls like a baby when Raji decides to marry Rajashekar. He channels his inner aggression into racing. He’s a biker and often bets his life for illegal street racing. One could argue that Madhan aspires to become a Rajasehkar. When these two worlds meet, we should see fireworks on the screen. But that happens only partly.

Sivappu Manjal Pachai isn’t devoid of issues — too much reliance on maaman-machan conflict, the generic love track given to Madhan, the plasticky bike racing sequences... But the writing is largely effective. I liked Raji’s failed attempts in integrating her warring brother and husband. There’s a lovely scene where she does laundry and hangs clothes to dry. She pauses a second, drags her husband’s uniform and brother’s jersey (note the jersey number: 46. It’s Valentino Rossi’s) and clips them together. I liked how Madhan is mischievous when he’s around Rajashekar. I liked how Rajashekar’s mother drives home a point about the misconception of ‘aadai’ without lecturing too much. I didn’t mind the closure they get, though it reeks melodrama.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 4:15:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/sivappu-manjal-pachai-movie-review-an-interesting-take-on-the-male-ego/article29359924.ece

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