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Maanagaram review: This directorial debut is a masterclass

Release Date: 10 Mar 2017 / Rated: U/A

Cinestaan Rating

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Manigandan KR

Director Lokesh Kanagaraj announces his arrival in style, so masterfully creating his characters and convincingly telling their stories that you have the satisfaction of watching four fantastic stories eventually blend into one.

Run time: 2 hours and 17 minutes

Make no mistake, this film is bound to be a serious contender for best film of the year. Director Lokesh Kanagaraj has just announced his arrival in style.

This gripping, intense thriller, which has a generous dose of action, romance and comedy, has been spun primarily around four characters, each unknown to the other and two of whom have no clue about the city whatsoever.

Of the four, three are on the verge of taking up new jobs. The fourth, at the behest of his lady love, is just beginning to look for work. As fate would have it, it is he who sets in motion a series of incidents by indulging in a necessary act of violence.

His violent act triggers a storm, not in his life but in the life of one of the other three, thanks to a case of mistaken identity.

Unfortunately for all four, there is another case of mistaken identity that results in bigger problems. Soon, one thing leads to another and in a matter of 24 to 48 hours, all four individuals find themselves facing life-threatening situations.

Lokesh Kanagaraj has so masterfully created his characters and so convincingly told their stories that one has the satisfaction of watching four fantastic stories, eventually blending into one. Watching this film is like watching a great artist at work. Each character is fleshed out so beautifully step-by-step that it is a joy to watch. Just as how one enjoys every element in a painting, one finds oneself admiring each of the characters on screen for they have so much variety and class to offer. By the time the director finishes introducing all the characters and the common plot, the screen looks like a finished painting and the delight only increases.

It is hard to believe that a director who is making his debut can make a film so perfect that it is almost impossible to find flaws in it. His screenplay is exceptional as is his narration. He neatly ties up all the knots, leaving no questions unanswered. Lokesh seems to have marshalled every resource at his disposal and ensured that every department has delivered its best.

Right from the casting, the director has got everything right. Sree, who came up with a fantastic performance in Onaiyum Aatukuttiyum (2013) and in Vazhakku En 18/9 (2012), delivers yet another exceptional performance in Maanagaram. As the naïve, kind-hearted lad who comes to the city to take up a BPO job and win the hand of the girl he loves, he steals your heart, making anger rise in you every time he is wronged.

Ramdoss (Munishkanth) as a simpleton who joins a gang is just brilliant. His performance goes to show how much he has been underused till now. His dialogues that reek of innocence and his goof-ups that showcase his folly bring the roof down.

Charlie, as a cab driver in a company owned by a gangster, as always comes up with a sterling performance. His sincerity and eagerness to eke out an honest living while looking to save his son who is suffering from asthma makes you feel concerned not just for his character but also for his son, who is never shown in the film.

Sundeep Kishan as the bold youngster who will go to any lengths to protect his girl wins your appreciation instantly. As the brash, arrogant but good-hearted romantic, Sundeep just aces this one. One wonders why this gifted actor hasn’t been seen in too many Tamil films.

And last but not least, there is Regina Cassandra, who steals the show with her class and elegance. Be it the scene where she finds herself in a dilemma when she has to make a decision whether to give a youngster his job or deny him the opportunity for speaking the truth, or the scene where she feels compelled to talk to her boyfriend but refrains from doing so for fear of hurting her ego, Regina is class personified. The way she carries herself through the film is fabulous and makes one fall in love with her character. At times assertive, at other times empathetic, Regina‘s character will stay in your heart long after the movie is done and dusted.

The film scores on all technical aspects. It has some brilliant editing by Philomin Raj. This editor, who is making his debut with this film, will be one to watch out for. His work in this film can best be described as fantastic. The same can be said of newcomer cinematographer SK Selvakumar’s work, which speaks volumes for his potential. Music director Javed Riaz’s background score is apt and plays a crucial role in enhancing the film's impact.

On the whole, this film by mostly newcomers is an experience that cannot be missed!

Reviewed by KR Manigandan