After the stupendous success of ‘Maaya’, Potential Studios banner has delivered their second film with a team of fresh talents spearheaded by debut director Lokesh Kanagaraj, whose ‘Maanagaram’ is a film that keeps the audience engrossed, right from the title card to end credits, as a clearly narrated hyperlink thriller with multiple characters in different situations, intersecting with each other.
Shri is a kind hearted youngster from a small town near Trichy, recently relocated to Chennai for an IT job with lucrative pay. Regina Cassandra is an IT professional and she is being pursued by her college mate (Sundeep Kishan), a brave and a brawny young man with a social concern.
The other equally important characters are a migrant taxi driver (Charlie) who has come to Chennai for the treatment of his ailing son, a corrupt police officer, a small gang of ruthless robbers, a misfit in that gang (Ramdoss) and a powerful mafia gang leader (Madhusudhanan).
‘Maanagaram’, set out and out in Chennai is about how these characters get affected by each other within a short period in this fast-paced urban life.
Lokesh does not waste a single moment and starts the story straight away with the first shot which is a conversation between two main characters, overlapped on an office building. The impressively designed title credits depicted through the set properties, comes a little later. From then on, we are shown multiple incidents happening to different people in different situations at the same time and how they coincidentally intersect with each other. The entire film follows this hyperlink screenplay pattern.
The scriptwriter (Lokesh) and the Editor (Philomin Raj) have worked in tandem to ensure that the narration is smooth and clear. Sharp dialogues (Lokesh) with occasional humor an realistic visuals (DOP-Selvakumar SK) that portray the day and night life in Chennai, ensure that the audiences are engrossed throughout and sufficiently entertained. There is no dull moment, barring a song or two that comes within the flow of narration.
The story is heavily dependent on coincidences and that makes things predictable beyond a point. But within that framework, the film manages to throw surprises at regular intervals. The acid-attack incident is a sample.
The undercurrent of emotions is retained well within the optimum level. The positive message about Chennai does not come as a ‘Chest thumping’ but as a poetic reminder about how the city emerged and what it actually does to the people coming from other places to make a living.
It has to be said that the violence and blood spill despite justified by the script, could have been downplayed to make it more suitable for family audiences. The film has acquired a U/A certificate. There are a few logical questions that remain unanswered but that is not a big dampener.
Shri comes up with a brilliant performance as he conveys, the shock, desperation and dejection without going overboard anywhere. Sundeep Kishan as a rugged youngster is quite apt in the action scenes and does a pretty decent job otherwise. Regina Cassandra gets a little limited screen space, but still manages to perform in a way that justifies casting her in the role.
Charlie comes in a pretty lengthy character after a gap and he has as usual plays the part effectively. Madhusudhanan enlivens an influential mafia leader with limited resources while Dheena as his main henchman is menacing as usual. The actors who portray the corrupt inspector and the constable and the guy who comes as the friend of Sri do their parts well.
Ramdoss (popular as Muneeshkanth) has given yet another hilarious performance as a naive kidnapper. He evokes laughter every time he appears on the screen and the best part is that it is his character and the way he has handled it makes us laugh. The attempt at dark humour is successful as even the way he weeps when his life is in danger, tickle our funny bones.
Javed Riaz’s songs are nice to the ears. The background score apart from enhancing the thrill factor, announces the arrival of a promising youngster who is well equipped in playing with sounds as well as silence.
Selvakumar's cinematography is neat throughout (barring excessive lighting in a particular night scene) and Philomin Raj's Editing is seamless for a complex narration. Stunt choreography by Anbariv is realistic and impactful while the.
Verdict- ‘Maanagaram’ is a must watch thoroughly engrossing thriller with the right mix of emotions and a realistic take on life in a metropolitan city like Chennai.