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Murungaikkai Chips Movie Review: A complete misfire- Cinema express

Murungaikkai Chips Movie Review: Plenty of wasted potential

Watching Murungaikkai Chips makes one wonder about how these adult comedies would fall flat if the makers are asked to not use the word 'podradhu'

Published: 10th December 2021

Tamil cinema is afflicted by a condition called Familiosis Audiencitis, a disease that makes filmmakers opt for a risqué theme but package it for the family audience. The latest film to suffer is Murungaikkai Chips. It does come as a respite that the film is certified 'A' because impressionable youngsters can at least be saved from some of this film’s regressive ideas, like baby-making being promoted as the primary agenda of marriage.

Director: Srijar

Cast: Shanthnu, Athulya, Yogi Babu, Munishkanth

The politics is not the biggest weakness though, because it is just an afterthought in the film. And truth be told, the central plot of Murungaikkai Chips is laden with delicious opportunities to make an intelligent adult comedy. A more-wealthy-than-you-can-imagine family patriarch (Bhagyaraj) asks his grandson Arjun (Shanthnu) not to consummate his marriage on the first night because of some strange test that all men in the family have to supposedly undergo. The reasoning doesn’t quite make sense, but you go along. Meanwhile, Vijayashanti (Athulya) is asked by her aunt (Urvashi) to definitely consummate her marriage with Arjun. What really bothered me by this point, when I had stopped searching for serious logic, is that Urvashi and Bhagyaraj don't share screen space in this film. Anyway, we have a sex-craving man being forced off sex, and a shy and demure woman, forced to jump into coitus. It’s a concept… pregnant with potential... but boy, do they squander it all.  

The Tamil euphemism, ‘Podardhu’—as with other films in the genre—is overused under the belief that it makes for top-tier humour. Understanding that the wafer-thin plot can only be extended so much, the makers bring in extra ammunition in the form of actors like Yogi Babu, Munishkanth, Bigg Boss Raju, Manobala, Madhumitha, and Mayilsamy, and producer Ravindhranath in cameos. Pardon my comparison, but the antecedent of Murungaikkai Chips can be found in Pammal K Sammandham. Much like a property exchange in the Kamal Haasan film that forces an emergency marriage, here too, we have an orphanage and greedy trustees who want the couple to consummate so that the property can be transferred to their trust. Again, there’s potential... but it is wasted.

The only consistency in this film is all the inconsistency. While Shanthnu and Athulya do their best to make the cliched writing and tired lines work, the comedy battalion goes to town with their antics. There is a lot of ad-libbing, in an effort to elevate the tedious humour of the film. There are multiple attempts at breaking the fourth wall, and they are partly enjoyable, especially the running gag involving the self-aware producer proclaiming that he has made peace with losing money. You cannot blame the comic actors for trying too hard because the 'adult' part of this adult comedy is jaded and juvenile, leaving all the burden on the character actors.

A highlight is composer Dharan Kumar's work. While the songs (its picturisation and choreography stand out too) do act as welcome distractions, the background score in the climax, in which the makers have shoehorned an eye-rolling sentiment sequence, almost negates all the goodwill earned.

Almost four decades back, K Bhagyaraj wrote a scene involving murungakkai in his blockbuster film, Mundhanai Mudichu. Since then, he has become synonymous with the vegetable in Tamil Nadu. Now, the makers of Murungaikkai Chips, have drawn (read ‘cashed in’) from that iconic connection and hoped to emulate his talent of packaging adult themes for the family audience. However, all they end up with is a misfire that does great disservice to both the veteran and the hapless vegetable.

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