Daffodils; She was the beauty that captured Wordsworth in his youth. Her graceful dance to the music of the breeze and her sunny skin endeared the poet’s lonely eyes and gave a reason for rejoice.
But there’s another name she was fondly called. By those who dared to taste her toxin, Narcissus she was.
For to those who saw her countenance she was a beautiful daffodil and to those who saw her deep within she was a fallen Narcissus.
Though KS Ravikumar mayn’t have been aware of the psychology behind Narcissistic Personality Disorder, he sketched one of the most complex characters who would redefine feminine antagonism in Tamil cinema and rightly casted Ramya Krishnan who’s impersonation of the same was perfection personified. Before being called Rajamadha, the actress for almost 15 yrs was fondly called Neelambari.
Neelambari; a girl who was idealised and pedestalled from her childhood, feared and worshipped by those around; it is but a natural phenomenon that as a woman she’d end up being the narcissist that she was. Being habituated to have her own way, Neelambari hardly faced any resistance in fulfilling her desires. Misled that fear equates love and respect, she commanded authority in all, except Padayappa. It was this lack of intrigue that Padayappa demonstrated that made him an interesting task for Neelambari. This is a common human response though; most of the time we’re attracted to people who prove us wrong or break the stereotype. It’s that sudden sweet tinge of adrenaline that make us take the second glance and most often, from then on, we fall prey to love.
If Neelambari had been well brought she may have had a chance with Padayappa. For it was her arrogance that seemed to him unlike a woman’s.
Padayappa rejected Neelambari’s pompous proposal and countered that he wished to marry a lady, not her. In the subsequent scene, even amidst her rage, one can see that she’s fallen vulnerable to Padayappa.
There’s this perk about vulnerability; it's not a safe place to be and yet it is the very foundation of love. You allow that one person to see your soul naked and unguarded and still hope to feel secure. You hand them all the weapons to destroy you and hope they’d use it to guard you. It’s this sweet paradox a narcissist wouldn’t contemplate. To fall prey to love? To empty yourself to feel complete? That’s too much to ask from a self-absorbed person. And even Neelambari with all her surreptitious attempts tried only to infuse fright in Padayappa rather than love. When he was permanently out of her charm after his marital union with Vasundra, she upgraded herself from a narcissistic sadist to a masochistic sociopath who’d punish herself in solitude for almost 18 yrs. She wouldn’t let anyone mock her failure, so she decides to mock herself by watching the same video, again and again.
We end up, at times, in this loop of ego where we play everyone’s flaws, again and again, forgetting our own. Neelambari stealthy conspiring against her lost love in seclusion was but paving her own path to complete moral destruction.
In a parallel universe, hypothetically, if Padayappa did fall in love with the spoilt young Neelambari and chose her over the well mannered Vasundra ( much like Balu falling in love with the arrogant Sumathi rather than the gentle Sulokshana in “Thambiku endha ooru” ), it may have turned the tables for Neelambari. With Padayappa’s true love and honest virtue, she may have learned to rid her ego and cultivate a gentler self. With constant love and embrace, she would’ve mellowed down and trusted Padayappa with all her vulnerabilities. Her short-sighted perception may have changed and she would have seen the world beyond herself. But then again if that be so, she would’ve just been another Sumathi or Vasundra, admired and forgotten.
Neelambari after 18 years of isolation loses the last speck of conscience she had and becomes a full-on psychopath who though plotting Padayappa’s destruction was actually heading towards her own. Her conniving disguise as the benevolent aunt for the rest of the film was only a ravaging start for her eerily tragic end.
Neelambari, the ruthless beauty, remained a shrew untamed even in death. The incorrigible Narcissus wouldn't be conquered by anyone unto her end. To perish at her own armour was better than to live in the mercy of another. So she decides to end her life in the famous final act with an oath to avenge in another life.
Sometimes, tragedy overwhelms happiness. Neelambari was that tragedy perfectly stitched to remain unfit for Padayappa’s happiness.
But why reflect Neelambari after 20 yrs?
Because it is the same seed that gives good and bad.
It is the same seed that gives Narcissus and Daffodils.
Don't let your Narcissus overwhelm your dancing Daffodils.
For even Lucifer was once an Archangel.
Written by - Dyna Albert