Mayakkam Enna

Going to see Mayakkam Enna was a whole new adventure since not only did the film not have subtitles, but it was also showing at a cinema somewhere out in the suburbs on a university campus. Thankfully I found my way to a very bijou but comfortable cinema and was very happy to discover that they sold plenty of snacks at half time – I will be back!

I expected a lot from Mayakkam Enna since the team of Dhanush and his brother Selvaraghavan have made some of my favourite Tamil films together. And I wasn’t disappointed. My only complaint is that I really did miss subtitles for this one. The audience were laughing and applauding for a lot of the dialogues and I wanted to know what was being said to get such good reactions.

Karthik Subramaniam (Dhanush) is an aspiring wildlife photographer with a supportive group of friends, who all appear to live together in a house with its own bar. Excluding the bar, I could really relate to this, as I had a similar set of friends back in my final undergraduate year. We all lived together and went everywhere as a group so I had an idea of the changes caused by adding a new person to this dynamic.  Karthik’s best friend is Sunder (Sunder Raman) and as expected the gang aren’t too welcoming to his new girlfriend Yamini (Richa Gangopadhyay).To make things worse, Yamini and Karthik don’t get on at all and constantly dig at each other. While I missed the dialogues that generated a lot of laughter from the audience, there were a few barbed comments that really didn’t need translation as both Richa and Dhanush did a good job in getting their feelings across.

Over time however their enmity turns to attraction, leading to a love triangle with Sunder blissfully unaware of his girlfriend’s change in her attitude to Karthik .

Meanwhile Karthik is slowly compiling a portfolio of wildlife shots in between running around taking pictures of weddings and tourists at local temples. His role model is award winning wildlife photographer Madhesh Krishnaswamy (Ravi Prakash) and Karthik is determined to get a job with him to learn from the best in the business.  However Krishnaswamy has no interest in nurturing Karthik’s career and repeatedly sends him away with scathing comments about his work. I have to admire Karthik’s persistence as he gets no encouragement whatsoever from his hero but still keeps trying to get that elusive ‘perfect picture’ which will persuade Krishnaswamy to give him a job. The shots in the countryside are absolutely stunning here and cinematographer T. Ramji captures the wildlife flawlessly. These visually stunning moments are in sharp contrast to the much more claustrophobic scenes between Karthik, Yamini and Sunder and this accentuates the tension in their relationships well.

The first half of the film concentrates on the love triangle and despite the subject matter, there are plenty of light hearted moments along with the drama of the relationships. The pace is fast and the dialogues seem snappy and well suited to the action. The second half is much darker as it documents Karthik’s slide into alcoholism and his emotional breakdown as he is unable to come to terms with the events that unfold. While this part of the film is slower, it does feature an excellent portrayal of despair by Dhanush, although he is matched by Richa’s fantastic depiction of a loyal and long suffering wife.

Although this is Richa’s debut in Tamil cinema, her previous performances in Telugu films have been impressive and she is even better here in a role that seems to have been made for her. The two actors have plenty of empathy together and each complements the others performance.  Apart from Sunder none of the other actors get very much screen time but all seemed to do well enough in their roles.

While Mayakkam Enna is in some respects a typical Selvaraghavan film, focusing as it does on darker emotions, Karthik is a much less damaged lead character than I’ve seen in his other films. Karthik doesn’t appear to have had an abusive childhood and is a well-liked and popular person with a large and warm circle of friends. This makes his descent into depression and substance abuse all the more shocking since he does have a strong support network. It also makes him a more realistic and sympathetic character, although in reality I don’t think anyone would have put up with his self-pity for quite as long as they did here.

The music by G. V. Prakash Kumar is another high point of the film, particularly since Dhanush sings on two of the tracks. I loved the soundtrack when I first heard it, and the songs fit well into the film, althoughI think the picturisation of Kadhal en Kadhal is a little strange. I loved the cartoon characters in Voda Voda though and this is a great song.

While the film does become overly dramatic in the second half it’s still enjoyable due to the strong performances. But please, someone take that long-haired wig Dhanush wore in the closing scenes and burn it! It’s terrible and really doesn’t suit him at all. That aside, Mayakkam Enna is definitely worth watching on the big screen and both Dhanush and Richa are fantastic. I think that with subtitles this could become one of my favourite Dhanush films – I loved it.

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5 thoughts on “Mayakkam Enna

  1. Very well written review. Good work you’re a good writer. I saw Mayakkam Enna a few times as i downloaded it a few days ago. It was a good copy anyway so i was still able to enjoy the movie, anyway the movie was influenced by the American movie A Beautiful Mind from what i read on wikipedia.org. Dhanush is certainly a great actor and Richa is an emerging yet talented Indian actress. More Tamil Movies (Indian movies in general) should be like this movie have an actual engrossing plot instead of song and dance routine with awkward scenes of professed love (catering to sexually frustrated youths) in addition to odd comedic scenes (only Vivek and Santhanam are exceptions). This movie still give me chills it hits home with my life and my struggles so i can relate, but i definitely dont assault people, have addictive bad habits, and nor do i intend to beat my wife if and when i get married, and i am responsible not a freeloader. In real life a guy like Karthik would be arrested, would be ostracized thus have no real friends/ family to support him, admitted to mental hospital, and or definitely divorced so in this regard the movie was not realistic. So, i dont like the criticisms of the latter half of the movie by certain critics it’s dark for a reason life is not fair and different people react accordingly to adversity (positive or negative) ; in most cases negatively especially if they feel they have been cheated in life like Karthik.

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    • Hi Kavin,
      Thank-you very much for your very kind comment :)
      I would like to think that in real life Karthik would have to face justice for the various crimes he committed. I’m not sure if a mental hospital would be the right approach but he certainly needed treatment of some kind to deal with his depression and anger issues, and I’m 100% sure his wife would have left him at the first opportunity!
      Although the film isn’t ‘realistic’ as such in the second half I think it does represent the absolute despair that some people go through when faced with problems in their life. It’s possibly more what people think of doing rather than what they actually do, or at least I don’t think people often go to such extremes. But depression is a very big problem and it’s often not diagnosed, so perhaps in that way it’s not all that unrealistic – particularly in the way that Karthik’s friends try to ignore his problems and don’t intervene. It’s an interesting topic for a film and certainly a different approach from usual.
      I loved the performances in this film and everyone brought so much emotion to their characters. Even though I had no idea what everyone was saying, it was still very easy to follow.
      I’m a big Dhanush fan and he just seems to be getting better and better with each film :) I hope he continues acting and doesn’t stop after he directs his first film next year – although that should be interesting to watch too.
      Can’t wait for 3!
      Cheers
      Heather

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      • Hi Heather its Kavin, actually Dhanush does not direct 3, but his wife does. Just want to keep the info accurate you can validate this claim. Did you see the music video of “Why this kolaveri Di” for 3 on youtube? His wife directs that too the remake of this video of “why this Kolaveri Ji” is hilarious as its making a slight humorous take of civilian slapping an Indian political official. I feel there should be more documentaries instead of stupid indian movies as Indian documentaries Marathon Boy and Music of Mumbai: Sound of Music by poor kids from Mumbai’s slums (can see clips of these on youtube)-these are both recent documentaries but they are much better than most Indian movies that cater to misguided young people. Its my hope the aforementioned documentaries can be sold in rich stores like Landmark in India and have good sales (good amount of profit should go to the poor kids in slums) esp better than high budget crappy movies like Ra One-i had to just see the trailer to realize its shit its copycat of great Tamilian movie Enthiran with star actor Rajinikanth. Its better to have realistic movies if not documentaries fantasies dont help people. Sure Indian movies have low budgets compared to Hollywood well Ra One did not, but its no excuse to make crappy movies that dont help anyone as there is lot of poverty in India good amount of it could be prevented, but instead the rich are stingy and live in protected areas without doing anything to help the poor. I recently have been in Mumbai and Chennai and did what i could to help the poor and i am not rich so you rich actors out there dont act like you care for the poor unless your actually trying to help them. Your friend Kavin. i hope you can read my blog peacefuljustice2070.wordpress.com. Thank you.

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      • Hi Kavin,
        Thanks for your comment. Yes, I know that it’s Aishwarya who is directing 3, but it has been reported recently that Dhanush is planning to direct a film himself next year. I’m not sure how accurate these reports are, but I have read that was part of the reason why he has been in Mumbai recently. It’s not too surprising really since his father and his brother are both directors and I guess he has grown up with that side of the industry.
        I agree that it would be good to see some Indian documentaries. I don’t think I’ve ever really seen any on TV when I’ve been in India, but then again since I don’t understand Tamil I may have missed them.
        I love BBC documentaries and it would be good to see some of this style made in India.

        I don’t actually think Ra-One was a remake of Endhiran. Endhiran had a plot and I don’t think Ra-One did! :D
        Cheers
        Heather

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