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Home Movies Reviews ‘Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam’ Netflix Movie Review - Lijo Jose Pellissery Puts Us In A Soporific Shackle

‘Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam’ Netflix Movie Review - Lijo Jose Pellissery Puts Us In A Soporific Shackle

The movie follows an irritable James, who wakes up on a bus believing he is Sundaram, a man who disappeared from a quiet village years ago

Vikas Yadav - Thu, 23 Feb 2023 13:15:02 +0000 3741 Views
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Things are split into two parts in Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam, directed by Lijo Jose Pellissery. The windshield of a bus appears like a dual screen because of a line in the middle. A tree acts like a barrier separating the modern world, occupied by James (Mammootty) and his family, from the rural one, inhabited by Sundaram's family. The soundscape is filled with voices coming from two sources - The characters and the television. In one of the stunning scenes in the film, both the voices merge through James/Sundaram as the left side of the screen is covered with red light while the right one with green light. Moreover, there is a bifurcation in terms of the language: Malayalam and Tamil.

This dual nature of the film originates from its premise, where a man - James - takes an afternoon nap, wakes up, and transforms into a different person - Sundaram. According to Wikipedia, Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam translates to A Mid-Day Slumber, and the English title of this film is Like An Afternoon Dream. Pellissery proves to be an expert at dream logic, which shouldn't come as a surprise if you have seen Churuli. Any other filmmaker might have felt the temptation to explain the reason behind James' transformation. Pellissery, though, along with cinematographer Theni Eswar, shoots the scene with so much self-assurance that you instantly buy into his images. Notice how the clouds move as if under a spell when Sundaram exits, and James reappears.

Pellissery has the skill to take ordinary situations to extraordinary levels. In Ee Ma Yau, a funeral gives rise to some chuckle-worthy moments, as well as thoughts on the nature of death. In Jallikattu, a buffalo wreaks havoc, and the director summons intense excitement. Churuli started with two police officers going to a village and ended with two people flying in the air. I always find a strain of self-indulgence in Pellissery's movies, but I also love how he is able to involve us in his madness. However, with Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam, I fear that the director has finally begun to show signs of detachment.

The craft is expectedly top-notch, and every frame seems to be produced with alchemy. Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam looks beautiful, but it's devoid of feelings. When two men on a cycle chase Sundaram, who is on a bike, you sense that it's all meant to be funny. However, you don't find yourself laughing. Pellissery is terrible at comedy because he has a tasteful eye. He is so concerned with artful compositions that he doesn't allow the scene to go haywire with mirth. In a dream, there is a possibility that anything could happen almost instantly. Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam has the look of a "dream" but it lacks spontaneity. Everything is rigidly preprogrammed and unfolds mechanically. James' transformation is signaled through the line, "To sleep is to die. And to wake up from sleep is birth." James' disdain for Tamil food and language is excessively underlined because he soon will transform and embrace what he dislikes. His comment regarding a sugary tea echoes during the scene where he adds more sugar to his tea. The lyrics, "Leaving their abodes, there they go in search of a place that's not there," also foreshadow the story.

The camera rarely goes near James/Sundaram. Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam is packed with gorgeous wide shots that, after a while, feel like a device, pushing us away from the characters and the setting. Hence, it becomes impossible to identify with James/Sundaram. The scene where Sundaram becomes James and sees his family waiting for him is meant to be emotional and deep, but all you feel is a vague emptiness and give little more than an indifferent shrug to this moment. The character literally looks at his reflection before turning into the man he was at the beginning, which sounds childish. The blind mother, perhaps, signifies "blind faith," which is why she instantly accepts a stranger as her son. But these "weighty readings" get diluted due to a repressed style.

In Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam, Pellissery becomes a puppet master who consciously inserts suggestive hints and feeds preprocessed lines and emotions to his pawns. The director previously used to come across as a passionate madman with the power to infect you with his fervid vision. You consistently felt as if you are walking with Pellissery into the depths of creative delirium. But in Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam, Pellissery leaves us behind and gets lost in his controlled imagination. He doesn't set us free with his invention. Instead, he puts us in a soporific shackle. Pellissery has lost his sense of exhilaration.

Final Score- [6/10]
Reviewed by - Vikas Yadav
Follow @vikasonorous on Twitter
Publisher at Midgard Times



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