Naanum Single Thaan Movie Review: Vile and infuriating
Consent, individuality, the single parenthood discourse, logic, romance, humour, writing – everything goes for a toss in this extremely unpleasant film
There’s something wrong with even the barebones story of Naanum Single Thaan. Udhay (Dinesh) is a tattoo artist who has ‘Virgin Boy’ and names of Trisha and Nayanthara tattooed on his body. After several failed attempts at wooing women, this gang of ‘Single 90s kids’ come across Swetha (Deepti Sati). What follows is two hours of Udhay, and his friends, stalking her and forcing her to ‘love’ him, and insufferable sermons about this toxic hero helping the heroine “understand his feelings.”
After twenty minutes of what seemed like a mash-up of some of the most misogynistic, repulsive memes, the film says there’s more and brings us regressive age-old concepts back-to-back. The film even uses poverty porn to emphasise the kind-hearted nature of the heroine in serving a slice of pizza and chocolate to a poor kid who gawks at her at a pizzeria – all for the stalking hero to get impressed by.
At one instance, Swetha gets kidnapped and there’s an unnecessary fight scene – the sheer ridiculousness of how this situation comes to be is something I leave up to the audience to see. At the end of the fight, Swetha loses consciousness, and instead of taking her to the hospital like any sane human, Udhay takes her to his house. It’s not over yet. He changes her clothes before tending to her wounds – because hey, tearing the clothes of an unconscious individual and putting a T-shirt on them is nothing wrong, says the director. Come on, he’s looking away – so, we too should look away from everything wrong with this scene, I suppose.
Naanum Single Thaan happens in a world where there’s no understanding of consent, and ‘No’ is not ‘No’. A man kisses a woman without her consent, and it is justified because he had a mishap with a Viagra spray, and so it is not his responsibility. If a woman says no and moves to London to pursue her career, the man should follow her and stalk her to woo her. If a woman still says no, beat up her boss for doing his duty, and get her fired. Is she still saying no? Take your parents to her place to manipulate her into matrimonial talks. If a woman says that she doesn’t reciprocate your feelings and that she wants to concentrate on her career, it’s not because it’s her choice and basic human freedom, but because she’s a feminist. The film even goes to the extent of saying, “Feminists are weak on the inside and strict on the outside.”
Director: Gopi R
Cast: Dinesh, Deepti Sati, Rajendran, Manobala
Add an unfunny Rajendran as Love Guru, a cupid in this hell (who does nothing other than just serving as a screenplay tool to get to the flashback), lewd dialogues that compare women to rasagollas and badham milk, and some moral policing, to complete the picture. And if that's not enough, there's more. Swetha decides to have a baby through IVF to get rid of such toxic approaches – it’s nobody’s business what she does with her body or life – but it seems like the director disagrees. He would have us believe a woman cannot independently raise a child on her own. Society, which never made an appearance when she was suffering from the clutches of this 'pure love', makes an appearance when she decides to have a child. Instead of questioning those who stigmatise adoption/single-parenthood, Gopi joins the crowd and adds a seal to stigmatise it further. Using this, a self-centered Udhay blames himself for this ‘blunder’ and continues to gaslight and stalk Swetha, to show how much he is willing to ‘sacrifice’ in raising the child with her.
Towards the end, what might kill your brain cells is the final twist in this twisted tale, when Udhay reveals that, on the advice of Love Guru, he swapped the sperm samples during the IVF to that of his own, and that all the infants in the hospital ward are his. Swetha, who till before the birthing scene keeps saying no to Udhay, is suddenly head-over-heels in love with him. At this moment, if you are frantically looking towards the exit door, you aren't alone.
The one glimmer of light in this horror is the music of Hitesh Manjunath. But, even the good songs like Maamazhai and Ithuvarai get spoilt due to illogical placements. Maamazhai is placed just after the scene when Swetha says no to Udhay, and the latter follows her to London. Come on, it’s a bright street in a foreign land – it begs for a duet song even when there’s no romance established.
Naanum Single Thaan neither has good comedy nor good acting. All it has is an illogical love story at the heart of it. It’s a carelessly crafted story that normalises an emotionally unhealthy equation. But who cares? After all, one can always look away and anything will be accepted, isn’t it?