‘You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain’. That’s the quote my mind came up with for the humour in Oru Nalla Naal Paathu Solren. Our introduction to the place of action, Yemasingapuram, is narrowed down from the multiverse. Andromeda, Milkyway, Sun, Earth, Asia, India, Andhra Pradesh, the district and finally, the village Yemasingapuram. The idea might have been to show how miniscule the village is. But by the end of the movie you feel that is probably the director setting you up for how the rest of the film is going to be — we are taken on a wild hunt where the jokes are hidden underneath a lot of noise. Thanks to a completely unpardonable run time of almost two and a half hours, what starts as funny ends up leaving us exasperated.
Oru Nalla Naal Paathu Solren is a film that revolves around a whacky village that worships the god of death (if that isn’t obvious enough from the name). Their lord Yema might like stealing souls but his followers steal only material possessions. Their rules are so intricately bizarre that it feels like the ideals in the film were developed on the go. However, I wonder why the ram-ravan dialogue from the trailer was changed.
I must say I did find few of these bizarre customs quite funny. The man-thali, for example. The men of Yemasingapuram wear the mangalsutras of their wives when they leave the village to steal, as a reminder of their commitment to their family. Or instead of a partially covered Niharika, we get a petticoat clad Vijay Sethupathi in a ritual that is close to Haldi. Breaking the religious tradition of the leading lady falling for the hero’s might, here Sowmiya (Niharika) falls when Harish (Gautham) is hit with tomatoes. Oru Nalla Naal Paathu Solren’ dry and conversational humour does get you in splits at moments — thanks to a brilliant Vijay Sethupathi and Daniel Anniepope. Poor Gautham Karthik, on the other hand, gets a character that is so confused in conception. You can’t help but agree when Harish’s friend Satish (Daniel) asks him, “Dei, nee unmailaye olaririya ila olara madhri nadikariya. (Are you blabbering on purpose?)”
The other hero for me was Justin Prabhakaran. Apart from giving us whacky songs, (which weren’t used aptly except for ‘En elumba’) Justin’s background score definitely made the film more enjoyable. With a stronger screenplay, a lot of vetting and a shorter run time — the director might have had something on his hands.