Worthy effort gone awry

Malini 22 Palayamkottai
Tamil (U) ¬¬¬
Cast: Nithya Menon, Krish J Sathar, Naresh, Kota Srinivasa Rao, Vidyulekha
Director: Sripriya

Never Love A Stranger goes the tagline of Malini 22 Palayamkottai, inspired by its Malayalam original 22 Female Kottayam. That the stylised and deftly done Mollywood original turned out exquisite effort setting cash registers ringing is another matter. Whether yesteryear actress Sripriya’s effort, who cranks the camera after a long hiatus, her effort emanating out of anger at what is happening around — sexual assault and violence against women, bears similar dividends, is to be seen.

For, much as one perforce would not like to compare the two, still Sripriya’s attempt begs lots to be desired though her intent to helm a women-centric issue is appreciable. The second half and turnabout of the victim who turns from gullible, naive victim into vengeful, vicious predator to bring her perpetrators to rightful justice, lacks conviction and deft delineation. Furthermore, Naresh, who plays Prakash, one of the villains, is no patch compared to Pratap Pothan playing role to perfection. Done in lackadaisical, matter-of-fact manner, Sripriya’s Malini lacks necessary panache and punch of its potent parent version turning out poor, pitiable copy.

At the fulcrum of Malini 22 is the titular heroine, cheery, small-town nurse, who harbours simple, middle-class aspirations of making it to greener pastures in distant Canada. With young sister Shalini under fold to fend for, she has two other nurses Sarala and Jency for company. Taking advantage of her rainbow ambitions is Varun, who charms his way into her heart as Rainmaker promising to bring sunshine and smiles. An unsuspecting Malini falls for his disarming guile and devilish designs, who with his boss Prakash, as partner in crime, ruins her life. How, a battered, bruised and hapless Shalini works herself up into vengeful, strong-willed and brave woman to give it back to the beastful beaus forms the rest of adult drama.

That it falls short of a taut, edge-of-the-seat nifty thriller and turns out trite, tiresome affair is a sad letdown given the film seeks to turn the spotlight on rather demeaning and diastaseful attitude towards women looked at more as sex objects than equal, respectful partners. Further, its facile solution of castration is too simplistic, to say the least.

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