The Vishal – Lakshmi Menon starrer Naan Sigappu Manithan adds an interesting twist to the archetypal revenge movie. The hero isn’t your typical testosterone fuelled mass of muscle; nor is he a righteous son of the soil. The mild-mannered hero – Indhiran – is tall and well-built alright, but suffers from a touch of the sleeping beauty curse: narcolepsy. Simple everyday actions are impossibly difficult for him, and so he chooses to live vicariously through his all-important wish list.
During the first half of the film, these wishes are simple fun. Like wish #3 “Shakila padam paakanum.” One would think that at his age, he’d have seen quite a few of those, but we forget: the man sleeps when he gets emotional, and as a result, he has slept through one of the most life-changing experiences of a typical Tamil youth.
So, suffering from a plight far worse than death, Indhiran still finds enough joy in this world and soldiers on. Now, he’s got a job, new glasses, his solo song is done with and he has started to get smarter about managing his affliction. Just as things begin to fall into place for Indhiran , he meets Meera – Actress Lakshmi Menon in the rich, city girl role wherein she drives an Audi, wears matching-matching outfits and displays an alarming tendency to get conned (She’s just naive,ya!).
[quote align=’left’]The dichotomy in the lead character makes Naan Sigappu Manithan a truly novel attempt and before we know it, we find ourselves rooting for the hero as he desperately figures out ways to stay awake…..just long enough to get justice.[/quote]This girl is also smart, independent, has a refreshingly modern outlook and clearly wears the pants in every relationship. After meeting Indhiran, she takes it upon herself to fulfill all his dreams and wishes, even accompanying him to go watch a Shakila movie in the theater, only to have him fall asleep before the good parts begin. Much giggling is followed by some cursory romance. All this leads into the much talked about underwater lip lock scene.
At this point, the movie makes a sharp turn. Meera finds a cure for Narcolepsy – at least Indhiran’s Narcolepsy. He just cannot fall asleep in water. So, from this point onward all important scenes take place either in the swimming pool, a water fall or in a bathroom for the couple. Cue the beautifully choreographed underwater make-out scene. As we valiantly try to adjust to this new reality, the movie offers us another resounding smack on the head. On an isolated bridge, a foul incident mars the life of the protagonist and his love. Almost overnight, Indhiran transforms into a vengeful, hate-filled man, who goes on a killing spree.
The plot is yet another take on the seminal revenge flick, Death Wish. Add a strange medical condition into the mix, and we get Naan Sigappu Manithan. It’s got a bunch of ominous looking villains led by the menacing Prince, but, the most dangerous villain of the piece is Indhiran’s condition. His sleep disorder emasculates him, it almost deprives him of his right to Justice and plays spoil sport at the most important moments. It adds a touch of unpredictability to the screenplay which makes the ride all the more eventful. It also provides the hero with some much needed leverage. His condition brings him allies, like the Uthandi gangster and the policeman. With these people by his side, Indhiran continues his mission.
Actor Vishal’s Indhiran is no Superman. Much as GV Prakash Kumar’s inspired BGM tries to clue us in, he’s no dark knight either (though he’s got the first part down pat). Indhiran is just Clark Kent without the superpower; Bruce Wayne without the limitless wealth. All he’s got are his friends, an amazing mother and a comatose girlfriend. Even with his immense physical attributes, he is vulnerable. This dichotomy in the lead character makes Naan Sigappu Manithan a truly novel attempt and before we know it, we find ourselves rooting for the hero as he desperately figures out ways to stay awake…..just long enough to get justice. [dropcap][/dropcap][quote align=’right’]The movie toes the line just between outright ludicrousness and acceptable schmaltz and at this stage, we’re clearly too invested in the goings-on to sweat the small stuff.[/quote]
This emotional connect is a strong point of the movie: We feel bad for this guy and we indulge his whims and fantasies. As he runs around town connected to an iPod blaring loud music (cause that supposedly keeps him awake too), we don’t mind too much. The movie toes the line just between outright ludicrousness and acceptable schmaltz and at this stage, we’re clearly too invested in the goings-on to sweat the small stuff.
The most surprising aspect of the movie is its blood and gore free violence. Indhiran’s rage fuelled killing spree is quick and brutal – designed to end lives, not torture them. It stays away from the more sleazy elements characteristic of its genre – the hedonism, the corruption, and the bar songs are kept at bay. While the movie plays occasional hide and seek with science and common sense, we have to admit it makes for a solid movie-going experience.