Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam Ending Explained: An Insane Dream or Ghost Seeking Closure? Decoding the Mystery of Mammootty-Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Film! (SPOILER ALERT)

Lijo Jose Pellissery’s new film Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam, that is now streaming on Netflix, is a confounding film but in a good way. Working with Mammootty (also the producer), LJP narrates the story of a drama troupe from Kerala caught in a bizarre situation when on its bus journey from Velankanni. Mammootty plays James, the reason behind that bizarre situation. Stopping the bus mid-way after getting up from an afternoon slumber, James gets down from the bus and walks to a village nearby and he begins to act like he belongs there, speaking fluent Tamil and behaving like Sundaram, a man who has disappeared two years back and is presumed dead. Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam Movie Review: Mammootty’s Dual Performance is Unsurprisingly Fabulous in Lijo Jose Pelissery’s Confounding Dramedy.

Of course, James’ unexplained change in behaviour puzzles both his family and friends, as well as Sundaram’s family and relatives. And before we proceed ahead, we are going to explain some MAJOR SPOILERS so if you have not seen the film, you better watch Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam first and then return to the article.

The Finale

As James’ folks decide to drug James and take him away, ‘Sundaram’ begins to realise certain truths that shatter his new reality. The villagers have found a new milk-man, he gets thrown out of milk-society office for forging signature of the real Sundaram, and is astounded when he sees construction work going at the local temple (though why he didn’t notice it earlier when he went to the temple a day before, I am not sure). What drives the nail on the coffin of his ‘reality’ is when he finds out that his regular barber has been dead for six months. It is also when we see ‘Sundaram’ seeing his reflection for the first time on the barber’s mirror, and it is also the first closeup scene of actor Mammootty in the film with a focus on his eyes to portray the shock of seeing a different face peering back.

Mammootty in Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam (Photo Credits: Mammootty Kampany)

It is that moment in which ‘Sundaram’ realises that he has become a stranger for himself and his own folks, and his pain is further enhanced by the fact that his daughter doesn’t sit with him during lunch and his brother gets angry on him.

‘Sundaram’ goes for his afternoon nap, but wakes up back as James. James, perhaps, realising what has happened to him, doesn’t question where he is, but simply tells his relieved wife that he wants to go back. So James, his wife and son along with the rest of the drama troupe walk back to their bus, while Sundaram’s family and the neighbours come to see them go. The next frame we see is James back in the bus awake and looking out of the window, while others in the bus are sleeping. The bus drives away from the spot, and we see Sundaram’s dog chasing after it.

The climax, like LJP’s previous film Churuli, doesn’t bother to solve the puzzle behind James’s bizarre behaviour, and it is left to us the viewers to determine the solution for the same. Which is exactly what I am doing here. I could be wrong, because I am not S Hareesh, the masterful screenplaywright of NNM, and perhaps only he and LJP might have the only answers to the mystery. Still, what’s wrong in trying, right?

Well, I could see three possibilities here. One, it is all a dream that James had while sleeping in the bus. Two, James is somehow possessed by the ghost of Sundaram. Third, he could be suffering from split personality disorder.

I would discuss the theories that I am least fan of first, before getting into what I think is the most ‘logical’ key to the puzzle.

Theory #1 – Split Personality Disorder

Did James suffer from split personality disorder like Ganga in Manichitrathazhu? That’s a possibility, but Ganga knew about Nagavalli before ‘transforming’ into her, and it is revealed that she had a period of mental illness in the past. In the case of James, there is no hint that he ever knew Sundaram and the village he is staying beforehand, and through the conversations of his troupe members, there is no knowledgeable history of him having any mental ailment. So let’s go to the next theory…

Theory #2 – It’s All a Dream!

Another interesting theory floating around is that the events that happened with James as ‘Sundaram’ is all a dream that James was having when he was sleeping on the bus. A possibility which is made stronger by the fact that in the last scene when we see James on the bus looking a little spaced out, the others in the bus are sleeping. A dream that could be triggered by the fact that before James went to sleep, he was listening to Malayalam songs on the bus, but as he went into deep slumber, the songs switched to Tamil. Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam: Watch the Old TV Ad That Inspired Lijo Jose Pelissery To Make the Mammootty Starrer!

Mammootty in Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam (Photo Credits: Mammootty Kampany)

While dreams can work out strange screenplays, perhaps James’ dream gave him a role of a lifetime where he got so lost in his character that he never could differentiate between reality and dream. But I believe the next theory holds more water…

Theory #3 – The Ghostly Possession

Lijo Jose Pellissery, in the opening credits of Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam, claims that he was inspired by the film from a TV ad, which turned out to be below

While the ad is mostly about reincarnation, we cannot say that James is a reincarnation of a man who went missing a couple of years back. Instead, LJP might have gone for another fantasy element – possession. Somehow on that journey, James was possessed by Sundaram’s spirit, who forgot that he had died and begins to live his old life the way he used to.

Mammootty in Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam (Photo Credits: Mammootty Kampany)

Ghostly possession also explains why James knows so much about Sundaram’s life and daily routine. There is also the fact that it is Sundaram’s dog gets friendly with him instantly, and his blind TV-obsessed mother, who can’t see ‘Sundaram’s physical appearance, is the only person to warm up to him in his new form. When James leaves the house after getting back his senses, it is she who is seen shedding tears though it could also be some scene in the TV that got her emotional.

Also, it is Sundaram’s acceptance of his own death that might have made him leave James’ body, be it the realisation that his own signature doesn’t belong to him, or he no longer sees his face in his reflection and that his own daughter treats him like a stranger. When James goes to sleep, he dreams of a man standing in the fields which I presume to be the real Sundaram, since he is wearing a similar lungi as James was wearing as Sundaram. And this is also the first time ‘Sundaram’ is shown sleeping after his transformation which is very important. Churuli Ending Explained: Aliens, Time-Loops, Demons – Decoding the Theories That Could Solve the Mysterious Puzzle of What Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Movie Is About!

Mammootty in Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam (Photo Credits: Mammootty Kampany)

Before James leaves the hotel in Velankani in the first act, he has a discussion with the receptionist there about thirukural, especially a quote from it that says going to sleep means death and waking up means birth. So when James went to sleep in the bus, he ‘died’ as James and was ‘born’ as Sundaram. When Sundaram wakes up from his nap, he dies as Sundaram and is reborn as James. PS: The duality of his personality is also hinted earlier on when James and his troupe watch a scene from Malayalam film Parampara, that had Mammootty in a double role playing father and son. The particular scene has the son Mammootty return to his house after years, and it is also when the TV malfunctions thereby hinting at James’ own turn of fate in the next scene (this could also play into the dream theory as well), when ‘Sundaram’ returns to his house after years.

Returning to the final scene, it has the director play tribute to not one but three films of the acclaimed filmmaker G Aravindan. The camera lingers on the name of the troupe’s play that is displayed on the bus, which is “Oridathu“. Oridathu is about a village’s peaceful life turned into chaos thanks to introduction of something foreign (electricity). The scene of the drama troupe leaving the place in their bus reminds us of the last scene of the 1978 film Thampu. Interestingly, Thampu is also set across a couple of days’ events when a wandering circus troupe’s presence in a village causes turmoil.

Finally, there is Kummatty a film where its protagonist is transformed by magic into a dog, which is paid tribute when Sundaram’s dog is seen chasing after the bus (is the spirit still with James?). If you note any more G Aravindan influences, please share them in the comments section below.

(The above story first appeared on Sports Grind Entertainment on Feb 24, 2023 05:27 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website

} });