“Nannbenda”… No wit, but plenty of twits

Posted on April 3, 2015


Spoilers ahead…

So who’s the target audience for Jagadish’s Nannbenda? If you say it’s summer-holidaying families, I’d say not. An early scene has Sathya (Udhayanidhi Stalin) walk into a room filled with actors rehearsing a play, and he says he wants the villain’s role. Why? Because then he’ll get the “gilma scenes.” Try explaining that to the ten-year-old beside you – though, thinking again, that ten-year-old has probably seen more gilma scenes than you. But why does this scene exist? Sathya isn’t an actor. He doesn’t want to be one either. These friends rehearsing the play, they’re never seen again. As this scene contributes nothing to the plot, we can only conclude it’s to establish character. And there you have it. A film with a hero who wants nothing more than the chance to do gilma scenes. This explains the “U” certificate from the censor board, though in all fairness, those distinguished people probably didn’t know what gilma means. As a matter of curiosity, I looked up what the web had as the definition. Here’s samosapedia: “colloquial Chennai tamil lingo for anything and everything concerned with intercourse and sexiness.” There’s a usage note too. “macha yesterday nite oré gilma va?” “machi look at dat figure she is semma gilma da!” This was probably typed in by your ten-year-old.

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Moving on, there’s a running gag about prostitutes. Sathya’s friend Sivakozhundhu (Santhanam) is the manager of a hotel in Trichy. It’s a 2.5 star hotel. It’s called Hotel 2.5 Star. It’s pure laziness, but they want us to think it’s comedy. Sathya suspects a woman is a prostitute. It turns out she’s the hotel owner’s “second channel.” Just because it’s the holidays, it doesn’t mean your ten-year-old shouldn’t learn a thing or two. There’s another woman, another suspect. This time, Sivakozhundhu decides to conduct a test. So he plays the song Raathiri nerathu poojayil. Her feet begin to twitch. She can’t control herself. She gets up and begins to dance. That confirms it. You know how spies recognize each other by saying things like “It’s cold in Berlin in December?” I guess it’s something like that.

So is this film for the female audience, those who used to come under the term thaaikulam? Again, I’d say no. Take Sivakozhundhu’s romantic track with Preeti (Sherin). After she falls for him, she coos in his ear, “Yaarukkume adangaadha figure naan – ennaye madakkittiye.” This is not the case of a man calling a woman “figure.” She’s referring to herself that way. Talk about male fantasy. She then tells him, “Enakku seekarame honeymoon poganum.” No females, clearly, were involved in the making of this film. These lines come off like they were typed by a horny adolescent with one hand on the keyboard and the other inside his shorts. There’s more. At her home, she points to Sivakozhundhu and tells her father, “Ivaru dhaan ongala thatha vaakka poraaru.” Sivakozhundhu asks his future father-in-law to book a room for them in Ooty. The father laughs indulgently. Which father, after all, doesn’t like the man who wants to bed his daughter as soon as possible? The family audience, too, is meant to laugh in recognition. This is, after all, how that ten-year-old was made.

When the jokes aren’t gilma, they’re rhymes. Sivakozhundhu runs into an elderly couple at a park. They say they have a grandson who looks like Ranbir. Sivakozhundhu replies with a line that has the words “tin beer.” There are plenty where that came from. Beedi/PT. Dabba/appa. Vilakkennai/vilakkam. Singh/malaikottai king. Ballelakka / birthday akka. Who thinks these rhymes are funny? Probably the same people who think it’s important to let us know that Sivakozhundhu wears Udumbu Mark jatti. The comedy hasn’t just scraped rock bottom. It’s burrowed through the core of the earth and come out through South America.

There’s a plot. Sathya falls for Ramya (Nayanthara). She’s got a secret. She kicked a dog and it went flying and when it landed, it died. Or something. So she went to jail. Now Sathya wants to go to jail to know what it’s like. He could have just asked the audience – these 2.5 hours are like a life sentence. Set to Harris Jayaraj’s music. That dog had it easy.


  • Raathiri nerathu poojayil = see here; oh, this link you’ll click on, right?

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Posted in: Cinema: Tamil