By T S Sudhir
The scene where Kamal Haasan draws the maximum applause in Manmadhan Ambu is ironically where Ulaganayagan (Universal Hero) Kamal does a Superstar Rajini. The flick of Rajini’s trademark cigarette, glares or chewing gum is replaced by the mobile phone. Perhaps Kamal’s way of `connecting’ to his friend-cum-rival’s fans !
Unfortunately, that’s perhaps the only different act Kamal, without a doubt, one of India’s finest actors, has done in Manmadhan Ambu. MMA is the kind of movie that will make you feel as if Dr Kamal Haasan has decided to study in class five again. It feels like a been-there-done-that kind of Christmas-New Year offering from Kamal. Nothing new that stands out in it.
He virtually sleepwalks through his own rather ordinary script, that offers nothing called a challenge to him or Trisha. Incidentally, Kamal has done more than half a Dasavatharam in this KS Ravikumar offering. Besides acting, he has sung two songs and also written the lyrics, story, screenplay, dialogues. He also ensured all the actors rehearsed for the movie for several weeks before the actual shooting, something unheard of in Indian cinema.
Does the effort show on screen? Nay, not really. Kamal for most part looks bored, the justification being he is doing a detective’s job (snooping on Trisha for a suspicious Madhavan) purely to raise money for his friend’s chemotherapy. There is no chemistry between Kamal and Trisha and you never quite realize when they fall in love.
The `Anbe Sivam’ pair of Kamal and Madhavan is probably a touch more engaging. Not that the two are face-to-face in the film, save the climax. Maddy’s role is the more challenging of the two. And his main co-stars in the film are his cellphone and Bacchus. No wonder, Maddy is in high spirits even on twitter as he tweets : “Thankyou all in the fraternity for wishing me for my drunkard act in MMA and sending me ALCOHOL to show your appreciation.’’ The hangover of doing a film with Kamal has to linger, I guess.
It is Sangeetha who is the real female lead of MMA. The actress carries her Pithamagan kind of form into MMA and packs a punch with her comic timing and has the better lines too.
Don’t go expecting a Panchatantiram from the Kamal-KS Ravikumar combo, for you will be disappointed. MMA has starting trouble and one hour into the film, you are desperately waiting for the comic fireworks to start, given that the film has been marketed as a laugh riot. The riot, when it happens post the interval, leaves you with a feeling of being shortchanged.
What KS Ravikumar offers by way of compensation is a glimpse of some marvellous foreign locales, shot beautifully by Manush Nandan. Kamal’s Virumandi even travels to Barcelona, with Kamal showing he can tame the Spanish bull with as much dexterity as at the Jallikattu. And Universal Hero hints he is a polyglot by speaking in French as well.
A couple of highlights of the film are the way technology connects people and makes this a small world that you almost don’t notice it. It happens so seamlessly. And the ability to move away from a stereotype and melodrama while depicting a divorced woman with two kids. That to me was a welcome change.
An entire song has been picturised by pressing the rewind button and the audience at Prasads Multiplex in Hyderabad, where I saw the film, clapped to show its appreciation for this rather hatke and ingenious way of presenting a flashback.
The problem with MMA is as much with Kamal as with the audience for you expect nothing short of brilliance from this Master of all trades. In MMA, Kamal has shot the `Cupid’s arrow’ (which is what Manmadhan Ambu means) rather lazily. Go without expecting a world record in archery !
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