AR Murugadoss's move to become a producer by promoting his assistant as a director was keenly watched by Tamizh cinema followers. AR Murugadoss is well known for giving taut and racy scripts but his debut production venture is more of a realistic and simple film with a hard hitting message for all people. Besides that, Fox Star Studio's decision to co-produce it shows the faith kept by them on the script. Saravanan is lucky enough to have such a good platform to launch himself into the cine-field.
The biggest asset and strength of the film is the superb and naturalistic performances by all four lead artistes. Starting off with Jai, the actor has played a soft-spoken, good hearted, cute boy role to perfection. His subtle dialogue delivery and body language. This movie will definitely be one of his best in his career. Not a dramatic role, but a simple and effective one. Sharwanand, the Telugu actor comes back to Tamizh cinema after "Kadhalna Summa Illai" has done a neat and simple role as well. As the city boy, he has managed to perform the exact way as what the director wanted to project, as a nice city boy, that is. Anjali, comes in as a bold and daring girl who has a strong mentality. She scores in the climax portions and certainly comparisons will be made with her previous memorable role as Kani in "Angadi Theru". She definitely deserves applause for a refined performance. Ananya, a town girl who comes into the city was cute and innocence, personified. She gets her expressions right and she deserves a pat for dubbing in her own voice which gives a more realistic look for her character.
The technical aspects of the film has been kept to the minimum so that the film doesn't look too cinematic. R.Velraj's cinematography was very effective for the film and his camera caught all the necessary details especially in the accident sequences. The accident scenes were very well made and the team should be applauded for capturing those details in bus in an in-depth manner. C.Sathya's music is pleasant especially the two chart-topping numbers "Govinda Govinda" and "Maasama" and both numbers were captured well with good montage sequences. Sarala Vijayakumar's costume designing was natural too. Kishore T.E's editing, especially the bus accident scenes were neatly done. Audiographer Krishnamoorthy's work should be applauded for incorporating natural sounds vital for the accident scenes.
Saravanan's script was simple, neat and straight-forward and there was no unnecessary twists and turns. The biggest strength of his script is the characterizations of his leading artistes as well as the cute, humorous and some thought-provoking love portions. Also, Saravanan's attempt to highlight some of the other characters traveling in the bus, should also be applauded for he has presented them all naturally and it creates a deeper impact upon the audiences as they could relate themselves with those characters. Although the accident sequences were very,very well made it could be too hard to digest for some audiences who will find it too stomach-churning.
Engeyum Eppothum, a honest and simple movie with a very strong and important social message for the audiences. A debut venture to be proud of for AR Murugadoss, Saravanan and Fox Star Studios.
Ratings: 3/5 STARS
Jiiva, who is on a blazing track by signing back to back films in Tamizh cinema and that too with well established directors, has come out with another film after his last Rowthiram fizzled without earning much in the blockbuster trade. This time it's a collaboration with R.Kannan whose previous film Kanden Kadhalai, a remake of the super hit Hindi film "Jab We Met" was a hit. It's a original script from Kannan this time after his decent debut Jeyam Kondaan. The songs of this film created the necessary hype around this movie. Did Jiiva and R.Kannan score this time?
Jiiva has nothing much spectacular to perform in this movie. It must have been a cakewalk for him. Nandha as the calm underworld don is impresses and it's a welcome relief to see him not to over-play the character with loud shouting and screaming. Kudos to him for improving film-to-film. Taapsee has a better character compared to her debut and she has more dialogues to deliver and her expressions with her cute smile is a plus for her in addition to Chinmayee's dubbing for her voice. The supporting cast like Azhagam Perumal, Malavika, Rahman, Sapan Saran, John Vijay and Manobala didn't have much scope to perform and only appear for a couple of scenes. Santhanam is the real deliverer in the acting department with his top-notch comedy timing and dialogue delivery. His one-liners are fantastic as usual and the best scene of him is when he tries to mimic Nandha. Santhanam is having a great time in Tamizh cinema.
This film has the credits of acquiring some decent technicians. Priya Manikandan's costumes for the lead pair was very colourful and charming, especially in the "Anjana Anjana" number. V.T Vijayan's editing was apt for the film, though he could have altered some scenes. Rembon Balraj's set work was minimal and most of the locations were done in real places but the interior's of Nandha's go-down was well done. "Rock" Prabhu's stunts was decent especially Nandha's fight sequence with a pole bar in an incomplete building. The final stunt sequence between both the lead actors was well made, though it was shorter in length. Thaman's music is the strongest asset of the film with pleasant numbers especially "Anjana Anjana" and "Kanchamala" numbers. Besides that, the "Thirandhen Thirandhen" number is hummable. PG Muttiah has done a neat job in the cinematography department especially in the picturisations of the first two mentioned songs. The former in a very cool and minty atmosphere, while the latter was shot in a bright and vibrant scenario against olden temple structures.
The problem with R.Kannan's script is that it has no proper continuity throughout and has left some questions unanswered. The script fails to establish itself into one genre, though R.Kannan tried to make a decent commercial film. The love portions between Jiiva and Taapsee fails to hold the attention of the audience as the the pair lacks chemistry between them. The blame should go to R.Kannan for not conceiving strong love sequences. The characterisation of Nandha is not etched out properly as well. Pattukottai Prabhakar's dialogues are noteworthy, though especially during the sequence where both the lead pair explain about their ideologies on love. The final twist which comes in the climax is shocker but it might not go down well with the audiences.
The answer for the initial question asked in the beginning of this review is, a definite NO....
Ratings: 2/5 STARS
Venkat Prabhu is back with a not just a bang but a LOUD one with this biggie, Mankatha with none other than the "King of Openings" in Tamizh cinema, Ajith Kumar. Both of them needed a hit as Venkat's previous Goa was a non-performer and Ajith's previous two films Asal and Aegan were big drabs and huge disappointment for his fans. This combination was very much anticipated with interests since Venkat never worked with a major star before and moreover this turning out to be Ajith's Golden Jubilee 50th film. The promos and trailers were very impressive and the final product too was quite a puncher, just falling short of being truly exceptional.
Technicians of the film has worked wonders for it and all the hard work put in was evident on the screen. Vasugi Bhaskar's costumes were very apt for the characters and thanks to her suggestions of giving Ajith a salt-and-pepper look, "Thale" was looking smashing in the film with his blazers and suits. After Rajnikanth, none would have looked as suave as Ajith. Arjun's looks and costumes were stylish as well and Trisha's dresses made her look elegant and pretty. Silva's stunts were brilliant with the shooting scenes in the warehouse and the climax fight sequences were well executed. Venkat Prabhu should be applauded too for mixing in good car and bike stunt sequences for Ajith, since it is his forte. Art director Videsh did a commendable job as well by giving authentic looks to the sets, be it Ajith's stylishly made apartment home, the warehouse, the cinema theater and the "Leisure Bar" setup. Praveen K.L and N.B Srikanth, the editors work was neat and the "Chess Board" scene was the highlight of their editing prowess. Mankatha will be one of cinematographer Sakthi Saravanan's best works ever. Be it the movements made in the opening scene of Ajith and the angle's chosen for the fight sequences, it's clearly visible that he had a gala time shooting this film with his lenses. The car chase and heist scenes plus the "Chess Board" sequence, are some of his exemplary works. Job very well done by him.
Yuvan Shankar Raja delivered good numbers for the film with the "Vilaiyaadu Mankatha" number and the "Theme Track" being the best of the lot which were perfect build-ups for Ajith. His re-recording work was very well done, with various styles of music experimented in the background scores. The "Vilaiyadu Mankatha" number was the best picturised, being shot in a discotheque with brilliant ambience and foot-stepping moves by Kalyan, being perfect match for Yuvan's beats. "Vaada bin Laada" number was very well conceived with the constantly changing fittings and furnitures well done by the VFX team. "Machi Open the Bottle" was peppy and well shot with energetic dance movements and "Balle Lakka" being casual and lightweight with the added glamour of skimpily dressed dancers. "Nanbane" track was well conceived and wonderfully written by the legendary Vaali. "Nee Naan" song picturised on Vaibhav and Anjali was straightforward and the montage sequences worked well for the song.
Describing Ajith's performance in a word is impossible but he was a class apart from any other artiste in the film. He was in a league of his own and hats off to "Thale" for being daring enough to choose a character which was not only grey in shades, but a out-and-out bad***. His dialogue delivery was brilliant and he oozes charm, grace, style and awesome screen presence. It's a big gift for an actor or a hero especially to be adored in a totally antagonistic character and after MR Radha, Rajnikanth, Raghuvaran and Sathyaraj no other actor was able to hold the attention and interest of the audience by playing a bad & mean character, with a touch of class. It's not a exaggeration to say that after Rajnikanth, no one else had such strong aura and charisma in playing the lead role. "Thale" has ROCKED!! It's a good changeover for Arjun who was doing mediocre films on his own and he was well presented and needless to say of his action sequences, he was on top form. Premji with his cute and terrific comedy timing takes the cake among the sidekicks. Vaibhav and Ashwin were natural in their respective roles and Mahat had a decent entry. Jayaprakash and Aravind Akash was adequate without going overboard, though Subbu Panchu's acting was a little bit wooden and forced. The heroines had nothing much to do in this boy's flick, but they were needed to move the plot from one scene to another. Trisha was cute and it's a welcome to see her dub in her own voice. Anjali, Andrea and Lakshmi Rai did what was expected from them.
The director has always insisted that the script was written first but end of the day the question arises whether the racy script complemented Ajith's persona or whether it was Ajith's charisma and presence which complemented the script. It works both ways, though the second proposition has more weightage than the first one. Venkat Prabhu's screenplay was very racy especially in the second half, where he brought out all the big guns one after the another, with new twists and turns being churned out every few moments. This move by him made the audiences to be on their edge of the seat. His forte in his scripts are the comedy portions being infused in serious scenes and it was evident in this film as well but lesser in number compared to his previous scripts. He must be appreciated though for putting in cheeky comedy lines, involving the artistes themselves, be it Premji's parody of Rajnikanth and Silambarasan or even relating to the alter-ego's of the characters, with Ajith's dialogue of saying "Naanum Evvalavu Naalathaan Nallavanaaga Nadikkurathu" being the best (even Anjali had her previous popular dialogue "Nijamathaan Solriya" which was popular in her debut film "Kattradhu Tamizh"). The amalgamation of few creative and interesting ideas elevates the script. Though the film has plenty of plus points, the script has it's pitfalls in the form of loopholes which can arouse plenty of unanswered questions.
It takes great guts for an actor who's idolized by thousands and thousands of fans as hero, to play a totally mean and diabolic money-minded character and Ajith deserves a big round of applause for having the guts and gumption to pull it off and that too in such stylish manner. If at all the script had no loose ends, this would have been a classic commercial entertainer.
Ratings: 3/5 STARS