Just when you feel like you’ve exhausted all resources on Netflix and there’s probably nothing interesting to watch any more, you come across films like “Oththa Seruppu Size 7” that completely bowl you over. The Tamil-language thriller released in September 2019 is slowly on its way to becoming a cult classic.
Written, directed, produced, and acted by one man—R Parthiepan—Oththa Seruppu is a movie that challenges regular norms of filmmaking and completely banks on the ingenuity of its writers and makers. With over three decades of experience as actor, director, producer and writer in Tamil cinema, R Parthiepan gives his career-best in the form of Oththa Seruppu under his film production and distribution company Bioscope Film Framers.
Reviewing this film will not be possible without revealing some of its surprise elements. But don't worry: we give out only the bare minimum. The film has only one actor—R Parthiepan as Masilamani—and is shot almost entirely in one room. There are a couple of voiceovers to help carry the plot but it is only R Parthiepan who appears onscreen for the film’s 1hr 45mins length. A single actor in a singe room holds the audience together throughout, making it one of the most interesting movies on Netflix.
The film starts with Masilmani, a middle-aged security guard at a gentlemen’s club, being held on the suspicion of a murder and who is being interrogated by the police. The interrogation room in which Masilmani appears in the first scene is the only location the film’s shot in. The interrogation begins without physical violence as Masilmani has already appealed to the Human Rights Commission.
Masilmani then starts by admitting to a single murder conducted in cold blood with a brutal modus operandi. But just when the police officers interrogating him (only in voice overs) think they’ve closed the case, he leaks out a mystery that forces them to dive deeper. What begins as a despondent confession of a common man gradually turns into a sordid narration of a serial killer. (His modus operandi is also similar to a high profile murder from a few years ago where the killer had left a “single slipper of size 7” at the scene.) The interrogating officers, including the deputy commissioner of police, get completely thrown off by Masilmani’s narratives and are forced to seek help of psychiatrists.
Oththa Seruppu manages to draw undivided attention of the audience within the first few scenes, and as the plot thickens and mysteries unfold, you are guaranteed to be mesmerized. R Parthiepan as Masilmani, the only visible character in the film, has all eyes on him, and certainly deserves the attention. As a father of a dying kid and husband to a cheating wife, Masilmani’s role as a common man turned cold-blooded murderer engenders empathy from the audience, even as they don’t completely trust him till the very end. His character is a dichotomy between guileless and treacherous, lucid and deranged.
Clever writing and equally edgy acting makes Oththa Seruppu an absorbing thriller despite its limited star cast, single location, and skimpy budget. R Parthiepan’s matchless acting, direction and writing are supported by Ramji’s cinematography. Working in a small room, Ramji’s camera angles to capture Masilmani’s monologues are sharp, innovative, and stimulating. It’s almost like we’re in the room watching Masilmani weave one story after another, also distracting us with his animated body language.
The messaging in Oththa Seruppu is subtle yet obvious. It delves on the idea of corruptibility of money, what happens to common people when their trust is broken, and the basic segregation between the haves and have-nots.
Who should watch it?
Oththa Seruppu Size 7 is a must-watch for any movie buff. We can’t exaggerate R Parthiepan’s role as an actor and filmmaker enough. He has created something that the entire Indian film industry should be proud of. And in doing so, he has presented a film that is enjoyable to just about everyone. Oththa Seruppu is thrilling, exciting, moving, and darkly humorous. A complete package, if you will.