Self Expression Magazine

Snapshot: Mayakkam Enna

Posted on the 28 November 2011 by Aravindan Ingersol @iaravindan
Snapshot: Mayakkam Enna
  • It has always been a romantic idea, in Tamil cinema, to have a group of guys and girls growing up together from childhood; Unaware, as they want us to believe, of their sexes in relation to each other as they grow together.  So when a supposedly sophisticated filmmaker like Selvaraghavan decides to place his protagonist in a similar milieu, you expect him to traverse beyond that liberal fantasy-in an Indian context- and add an extra dimension to the characters in the group. Sadly, he disappoints! It is merely used as a placeholder to reinforce the traits of his seemingly uncultured protagonist devoid of parental nurturing.
  • Selva’s obsession with gloom is telling throughout the movie. The tension between Dhanush and Richa, from the scene when they first meet and the subsequent scenes when the uneasiness plays out between the two are all set in dark; the darkness is beautifully used as a veil to hide the tension from everybody other than two vulnerable people. So even the conspicuous silence in the midst of their physical presence and the glances passed at each other without any fruitful conversation (other than the blatant insults traded between each other) helps build the tension. Clearly the tension isn’t sold as the commonly over abused feeling -“Love”. It isn’t sold as what it is-‘Sexual tension’- either. It is unwise to not play this tendency out visibly, I think. Showing restraint, surprisingly, Selva?(Perhaps!)
  • Looking at Richa, the female lead, you get the feeling that she has no more than a single expression in her stock of emotions. Often, she looks as though she stares; her pupils seem  lost in those huge eyeballs and aligned like the visual alignment of two horses tied to a cart; her nostrils flared up, and the upper and the lower halves of her lips glued together ,as if she is reluctant even to let a whisper sneak out of her mouth. However, that slackness in showing her emotions successfully conveys, for the most part, what it wants to convey-anger, envy, and her luring invitation to Dhanush.
  • But, while you expect her to pass a smile or even a warm expression, when her conversation with Dhanush turns less than hostile, she becomes predictable. In one of the most beautiful scenes in the movie when Dhanush meets her in a bus stop you finally get to see the glue, holding her lips together, starting to thin out (But pity that the cinematographer disappoints with a side faced shot throughout the scene!). And a very unconvincing kiss is exchanged between the two in the same scene; a sort of ‘plastic kiss’ characteristic of Indian cinema in general. Restraint in all the wrong places!
  • Halfway through the movie, you sort of get the feeling that the director is suffering from 'attention deficit syndrome'. Episodes are picked and dropped at will. Like the conversation with a 5 year old, who while making an engaging conversation with an adult suddenly drops the topic and moves on to something else. For the conversation becomes too big for her capacity to not breach her concentration. When Dhanush’s friend, Sundar, discovers Dhanush’s interest towards his lady love and vice versa, you half expect the drama to wind up comically in few scenes- switching from their persisting bitterness between the two to Dhanush happily tying the knot around the girl. And just when you forebode a ‘happily ever after’ scenario, you are put through an excruciating episode of an alcoholic in self-destructive mode.
  • I wonder why Selva chose to caricaturize the ‘role model’ of Dhanush. Extrapolating the idea of fame and success (enjoyed by Dhanush’s role model, supposedly an internationally acclaimed photographer) to merely arrogance, greed and a sense of superiority exposes criminal laziness in charting the lead characters. Also, in the scene where we discover Dhanush’s sister’s interest for his friend Sundar, you tend to think that the director could have dropped subtle cues of such an interest earlier in the film (Or did I miss something?).
  • In another revealing scene in the movie, Dhanush’s friend makes sexual advances towards Richa (Dhanush’s wife) under the pretext of helping her cope with her grief. While the sexual advance he makes towards her has an entirely logical premise (setting aside the question of morality), as even Richa explains very sensibly in the same scene, what is illogical is his vituperative remarks on his childhood friend Dhanush. Even if we are to believe that his animal instincts superseded his morality, that doesn’t explain why someone would want his friend-with whom he had practically grown up with from childhood, be thrown into a mental asylum for a fleeting moment of 'pleasure'.   
  • In one of the most poignant scenes Dhanush is told that photography is not his cup of tea from the very man he idolizes the most; like a sledgehammer beating him to pulp. The scene that follows captures beautifully the fragility of his self doubt. He seeks recognition of his talent from an old lady for a photograph he has taken of her. The lady has probably never seen a photograph in her life.  You cant help but empathize with the struggling photographer at that moment.
  • Why does a lady have to put up with an alcoholic, irresponsible husband to help him scale his dreams, while she endures in silence the physical and mental trauma inflicted on her? Is it that a woman should always play second fiddle to a man, forever picking the stones in his path to success? A microcosmic view of the deep seated male chauvinism in our society exposing its disgusting best!
  • In the scene where Dhanush wins the most coveted award in the field of Photography, while his friends erupt in joy back home, his pregnant wife sits silently  in the couch, like a dormant volcano, not showing visibly the erupting emotion brewing inside her.  It is that moment when you want to scream to yourself - “Why didn’t Selva just stick to what he does best- capture the intensity of emotion of a moment without words, sentences and conversation- instead of promulgating lofty ideas like passion and creativity ?”.  
  • Selvaraghavan could have easily done justice to his original title – “Maalai Nerathu Mayakkam”.  Sadly, he doesn't!   

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