Release date: 25/11/2021
Platform: Sony Live
To throw: Silambarasan TR, SJ Suryah, Kalyani Priyadarshan, YG Mahendran
Director: Venkat prabhu
I waited for enough people to watch Maanaadu before expressing my opinion on it because it was a movie I couldn’t write about without spoiler. There is so much to celebrate about the script, editing, and execution that spoilers are inevitable.
Now that the movie has been released on OTT and obviously enough people have watched it, I can safely share my spoiler-filled opinion on it. I always urge readers who haven’t watched the movie and don’t want it spoiled to take a break from reading here, watch the movie, and then come back to this review for a juicy discussion on the movie.
Maanaadu is the story of Abdul Khaaliq (Silambarasan TR), an underage celebrity who attends Zarina (Ajena Kirti) ‘s wedding in Ooty to help her escape with the love of her life, Moorthy (Premgi Amaren). Everything goes according to plan and Khaaliq succeeds in his mission but as he is about to leave Ooty, he accidentally injures a man called Rafique who appears to be a person of interest to the local police.
Dhanushkodi (SJ Suryah), a senior police officer forcibly recruits Khaaliq to perform the same mission Rafique was supposed to undertake for the police in return for his freedom. The mission is to shoot down the chief minister of the state. Khaaliq soon realizes that he is being staged for a murder that will lead to widespread riots and the transfer of power.
Before he can do anything to stop the tragedy or clear his name, he is shot dead by the police. Surprisingly, Khaaliq revives himself at the start of the same day and sees him over and over and over again as if he is meant to correct the evil that is being done.
The film’s greatest strength is its clever and wonderfully constructed storyline. While some may find the first 15-20 minutes of the movie a bit overwhelming, I assure you that every second of those minutes is important and necessary for what unfolds in the next 2 hours. A thriller involving a time loop is nothing new.
Hollywood has dealt with the genre and similar plot elements in many successful and well-directed films. Manufacturers of Maanaadu accepting and appreciating this fact in a scene through the dialogues between the characters and it makes the film eerily self-aware and yet believable. What makes this film special are the plot elements and the unfolding of the script.
The protagonist is distraught to begin with. With each subsequent iteration, the story gets more complicated, but the protagonist gets smarter. Khaaliq gradually realizes who the killer is. He traces the killer back to his hiding place and uncovers a sinister plot to riot in the next iterations. This is followed by the revealing of the man behind the sinister murder plot and why is doing the same.
The same man then in one of the iterations gives the protagonist a vital clue that ultimately leads to his downfall. As the protagonist draws closer to the end of the tragedy, Khaaliq’s leverage through the loop continues to sharpen.
It culminates in the final loop when the audience knows this is the hero’s last chance to undo everything that has happened. It wasn’t an easy task to bring all of these different elements together into a cohesive, intelligible, and thrilling storyline, but Venkat Prabhu did a phenomenal job of building an almost perfect storyline with a harmonious blend of drama, comedy, action and thrill.
The twist of the tale
While in every time-looped thriller time usually turns for a character in the story, Maanaadu takes a giant step forward and does the time loop for two characters. Yes! The character of Dhanushkodi is also going through the same predicament as Khaaliq and after a while he begins to use his knowledge of the day to make Khaaliq’s life more and more difficult.
There comes a time when the antagonist narrows down Khaaliq’s location at the start of the day and that too to a place he cannot escape from. Thus, he has one last chance to do what he can to stop the assassination plot. The directors present this noose around Khaaliq’s neck in a wonderfully nuanced and exciting way that keeps raising the stakes and increasing the tension and thrill of the film.
The action, the editing and the background score
The movie has at least two memorable action sequences and these two sequences are made even more interesting because of the way they are choreographed and edited. In one of the action sequences, we see Khaaliq taking on a large number of minions in a building.
This sequence is special because of the way it is envisioned and executed. Khaaliq revives and leads to certain points of the fight in several iterations through the montage. It not only gives momentum and enthusiasm in combat, but it also feels like a very elegant and immersive way of watching the protagonist use the time loop situation.
Points should be given to the film’s editor, Praveen KL, for keeping each iteration of the same process fresh and imaginative just by the way the footage is edited. It should also be noted that it was the editing that had to be fine-tuned so that the spectators clearly understood the events and the variations and also to capture the multiple loops in the same narrative space thus appreciating the central theme of the film.
The performances of Silambarasan TR and SJ Suryah
STR and Suryah play almost the entire movie between them and they are so lively in the rendering of their respective characters that it will be difficult to take their eyes off them. I enjoyed Suryah’s performance more than STR’s only because of the conflict, frustration, and spirited expression he brought to the character as the story progressed and his stakes rose. .
There are several times when he is frustrated with his soul due to his constant resuscitations. His explosions in these scenes will leave you rolling on the floor laughing. One scene in particular that made me burst out laughing was the one where he was explaining his situation to a minister, whose speech that day he spelled out without missing a beat.
What makes his frustration more fun is the fact that he doesn’t revive himself on his own, but does it every time Khaaliq is killed and he knows it too. It was probably one of the craziest things Venkat Prabhu could have done with the character and he does it with finesse and aplomb.
STR holds firm in Maanaadu and makes some of the more serious scenes believable and touching. He is his best version in the scenes he shares with Suryah. It should be added that it makes the protagonist believable and also gives him a distinct character and charm that makes the character likeable and that can be taken care of.
Maanaadu is outrageous and bonkers and yet is somehow believable and touching. The film is capable of wowing, entertaining, and making audiences laugh with its storytelling, technical details, and bravery performances. Venkat Prabhu keeps an eye out for the smallest details and presents them in a way the audience is sure to notice and appreciate. For all this and more, Maanaadu is an extremely entertaining, enjoyable, and invested watch that should be experienced at least once.
Rating: 4/5 (4 stars out of 5)
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