The title should have been Allam Murabba in Telugu. That would have caught the true flavour of the Tamil title and aptly given away the nature of this romance anthology.
As anthologies go, the general case is: some films are interesting and others are not so. But Naarinja Mithai is a simply addictive watch. Take any of the four segments. Even though you don't connect with the story, some point or the other, or some detail or the other, or some moment or the other makes you watch it again. Why so?
Let's jump into Naarinja Mithai review and know if my title Allam Murabba is better apt or the presenter's title takes the cake. Unlike some of the recent anthologies which are handled by several directors, Naarinja Mithai is helmed by one person - Halitha Shameem and that's the reason behind the unmitigated thematic integrity.
Among the 4 shorts on this anthology omnibus, only the opening story, Pink Bag has the flavour of a true Naarinja Mithai. Okay, leaving my gripe with the Telugu title, the first story, Pink Bag, witnesses how love connects a ragpicker and a rich girl. Maanja (played by an excellent Rahul) is a teenager. Means all hormones and we can't complain despite economic position. He begins to have a crush on Mity played by Sara Arjun. She's a girl from a wealthy family. How they are connected? Not when our man does a heroic feat nor when she's drunk and gets saved by him.
He stumbles upon her photo in the garbage from her home (as a ragpicker). Soon, he begins to collect souvenirs from her garbage everyday – a seemingly broken Walkman that has a recording of her song (she is an aspiring musician - cute, no?), a ring that holds some emotional value etc. It's a beautiful piece of the entire film and is vibrant despite a visibly unrequited love in the air. Class difference plays a part. But in a different way. The deliberate pace, raw performances, and piercing visuals make it a memorable watch. And sweet pain takes over us.
Love is in the air. Only that we have to find it. And the flavour matches the wavelength with which we release our signals to the universe. This second story starring Nivedhitha Sathish and Manikandan is the best among all the four stories in many ways. Even the questions it pose to us tell a lot of bitter nothings. Bear it with an open heart. It's an experience.
Madhu (Nivedhitha Sathish is demure and hence looked all the more beautiful) is a self-admitted unromantic person. But obviously, she ends up falling for Mukilan, a part-time meme creator (a trendy profession nowadays). Unfortunately for both, he has just discovered that testicular cancer is eating him away. They meet as passengers ride-sharing a cab, and gradually open up to each other, discussing everything from love to pornography and what not just like in real life when it happens just like that. Madhu ends up giving the heartbroken Mukilan hope (literally) and heart (metaphorically)!
Manikandan as Mukilan did a fine job. Nivedhitha Sathish might have been given a beaten to the death style of character name but her characterisation is soulful and she carried it with aplomb. You'll end up falling in love with her. Both these lead actors remain the best performers along the ensemble cast. The music here is subtle yet haunting.
As the title of this story reveals, it's the tale of old people and their hesitating romance. Two people in their autumnal years realise they cannot live without the other. Navaneethan (Kravmaga Sreeram) spots Yashoda (Leela Samson) playing at a park and is instantly smitten by her. He is a widower while she is a spinster.
They get acquainted at the hospital where they are undergoing a master health check-up. They open up to each other about their respective lives over a turtle walk back home. While they have no problem beginning a conversation, unlike youngsters who have fallen in love just like that in the first story, these old people have doubts crop up. They are more or less similar – does he/she really love me? Will our relationship be accepted? Or is it a futile exercise with a stranger? Leela Samson is enigmatic in her expressions despite the fact her character doesn't demand this. Krav Maga Sreeram is neat.
While the first three films take us somewhat to a dreamy land of romance with a bit of surrealistic and fantastic feel here and there, Hey Ammu is bitter reality. A housewife who feels neglected. And the man who thinks he has given her everything and is confused as to why she's still whining. Handled maturely and is a realistic take on modern-day married life of a-shade-below middle aged couple with children.
Dhanapal (Samuthirakani) has no time for his wife, Amudhini (Sunainaa) - Rings something? But the original Tamil version of this film was released long ago He doesn't recognise her needs - both physical and emotional. Like every educated, working middle class man, he's a good father to his children and appears as a gentle leader of a respectable family.
He thinks he's all right. But she has to submit to his needs than the other way round. When Amudhini complains that he barely notices her, he shoots back that he is going bald but she, too, hasn’t been giving that any notice. Hahaha! Male ego in a different form. And when Amudhini reaches the end of her tether with his uncaring attitude, he tries to compensate.
He gifts her a virtual assistant – hoping that she’d leave him alone as she now has someone to speak to! How does this new entrant enable the couple to learn about each other and lead to harmony in their relationship? Or does it finish their outwardly heavenly family life?
Watch out for yourself. This is the most ironic and (black) humourous part among all the four stories. He loves her. But... Life's like that! Samuthirakani and his irritated expressions are fun to watch. Sunainaa is good.
The four stories are bound by different flavours of love. And if you have already gotten an idea, you'll agree with my title Allam Murabba than Naarinja Mithai is more apt. Anyway...
The music is good. The sounds are underplayed. Silence is highlighted wherever necessary. The cinematography is a lesson on how to integrate the theme of the film into the lighting and visuals. The production values are good. A well made and well dubbed film.
Just watch it. But in leisure. Or watch it in parts savouring each and every scene. Experience every detail with 5 senses. You'll love it. Tata!
Rating: 4 out of 5