The main reason I chose this movie was the apt time of its release which was just a couple of weeks after I moved to Chennai. I am very sure that this movie will stay close to my heart forever just for reflecting my initial experiences with this metro on and off its culture, people and of course the traffic. Once we entered the screen, I was really surprised to see that almost 80 per cent of the seats were full except for the first three rows. Having crossed over 30 days from its released, this movie still has huge turnout even on a weekday. That was the moment I truly realised that how this movie had influenced the public by capturing and screening the ground reality of this peculiar metro.
The movie revolves around several characters who are not named at all till the end. And you can identify these characters anywhere on the road you travel. A newbie in town, an innocent who is not clear with routes, a bad cop, a good cop, a contemporary youth who loves both the city and his girl to the core and above all a wannabe gangster. With these characters the movie delivers the idea it actually wants to propose about the city and its denizens. The highlight of all this is that the movie does not compromise itself in terms of commercialism too. As far as I have read, these lead roles of the movie were not named because they could be fitted on to any X or Y individual in Chennai. That is the USP of Maanagaram as the movie could push everyone (at least who hail/hailed from Chennai) who watch that into a point where they can relate it personally.
There are some sequences and dialogues that reflect the true colours of the city and the peak of all of them is the conversation between the character of Charlie who is an innocent cab driver and Shri who is a one day old Chennaiite. The dialogues they share for and against the city are written with a serious depth that every dialogue of both the character gets an applause from the spectators. Especially the question raised by Shri, ‘Nadu roadla orurthana potu adikkiranga aana kekka oruthan varala’ followed by the response of Charlie, ‘Neenga kepingala sir. Nama ketaa thana namaku nadakkum pothu kepaanga’ and that’s Chennai. The whole movie is based on these two lines and the director himself refers the same response of Charlie later in the movie.
Similarly, the dialogue of Shri defining ‘Othaa’ is another significant scene of the movie. Earlier, my reviewer friend Gilbert had referred that the Censor Board has acted sensibly this time by not muting that word as it would have spoilt the emotion conveyed if beeped.
Maanagaram is one of the very few movies which has the ideology reflecting in all grounds. Even the commercial elements of the movie carries the shades of Chennai throughout. Starting from the very beginning, the movie’s title cards are made with different scenes of Chennai that includes even a small mouse running through the underground drainage lines. The name card of the movie is written in a sky scrapper look alike font depicting the nature of the city. A couple of songs from previous movies like ‘Enga ooru Madrasu’ have been used as a reference in the movie to keep in the mood of the movie.
As the entire story happens in one day, the director has chosen Madras day for that. Reflecting the scenes of the city with rushing roads, the day opens with the voice of a hustle-bustle RJ of a radio channel about Madras day and closes with a soft spoken RJ with a melodramatic when the roads are empty late in the night.
Script aspect and director’s cut:
It is completely the director Lokesh Kanagaraj’s show throughout the movie and all is because of the strong and a contented script he has dealt with. This plot of the movie could have been said in any kind of a screenplay. But, to keep the spectators engaged and entertained for the whole run time, he has filmed it an action thriller with a lot of comical and romantic elements too. The screenplay of the movie is so coincidental that the director could successfully restrict the script within those five characters alone but has not at any point slipped off his logical path. The movie does not require a separate character for humour elements as most of the characters have been given dialogues that could be serious for them but resemble a dark comedy and bursts the screen out of laughter. The sequence where the two gangsters stand in front of the car and yell at the villain character PKP is one example for this dark comedy. Apart from the story line and the screenplay, the dialogues of the script stands out and carries the complete mood of the movie to next level.
As the movie deals with common people with no names, the director has played a very conscious game in picking out the cast with both tremendous performing skills and with faces of a next-door person. Be it Shri, Sundeep Kishan, Regina and Charlie, all of them look like they are ones who were born to do the role. Above all, it is Ramadoss (Munees Khan) who is the show stealer. Every dialogue he speaks in serious situations is just like ‘Who the hell is he?’. What a performance has delivered, and that’s really mind blowing. Sundeep has played the role of a typical Chennai boy who raises against odds. His facial expressions are so ferocious in serious scene while romantic in love scenes which has helped him show his versatility. On the other hand, Shri has come out with yet another plot which will help him go places. Yet I feel that he is still being under rated. Meanwhile, the character of Charlie and his emotions shows he is no less in experience. Despite being an artist playing very comical roles in the past like painter Gopal (Govaalu) in Friends, Charlie has easily faded out those shades to play a very serious and innocent role in Maanagaram. Similarly, the roles in negative shades including the three gangsters, the bad cop and PKP, I should say that all of them have well fitted into the character.
The technical aspect of the movie is the one which would justify that Maangaram is ‘picture-perfect’. Because all three major technicians, editor Philomin Raj, music director Javed Riaz and cinematographer Selvakumar, have stood as the other three pillars along with the director. As the second half of the movie completely takes place in the night, the cinematographer has worked really hard to show the dark colours of the city. The scissors of Philomin has worked out well without spoiling the mood especially in the scenes where the story runs in different directions for different characters. While, the songs and original score of Riaz are like a treat to the spectators as they act an equilibrium to the eye catching visuals of Maanagaram.
There is a dialogue for Charlie’s character that says, ‘Intha ooruku pozhaikka vantha yellarum intha oora romba kora solluvaan. Aana yevanum intha oora gaali pannitu pogamaatan’. Justifying this, the newbie to the city says at the end, ‘Intha ooru thaan enaku 25,000 roova sambalam kuduthu nammala vaazha veikka poguthu. Manushanga panra thappukaga oora yen kora sollanum’ and concludes with a song carrying the lyrics, ‘This metro’s gonna knock you down’. And that’s Maanagaram is all about. Simply real and perfect!!!
Chennai, April 12, 2017.
The above viewer’s note is completely the perception of Santhosh Mathevan alone. This does not reflect the views of two or more people or a community. Queries and criticism shall be addressed to the writer only.