Maanaadu from Venkat Prabhu works immensely as an entertainer package because it is always focused on the concept they are trying to depict. From scene one, what Venkat Prabhu shows you in the film is relevant for the movie to establish itself. There are no hero introduction songs, sidetrack humor, etc., to package it as a festival entertainer for the masses. The time loop concept gradually becomes a perfect podium for a cat and mouse game, making Maanaadu hilarious and unpredictable. With Silambarasan and SJ Suryah delivering memorable performances, this science fiction from Venkat Prabhu is an engrossing experience.
Abdul Khaaliq arrives at Tamilnadu on a flight to attend the wedding of his friend. On the flight, he happens to meet a girl named Seethalakshmi, who was also going to the same wedding, and she was from the groom’s side. While coming back from that wedding, a series of unexpected events happen in the life of Khaaliq after his car met with an accident. Since the trailer hasn’t revealed much, I don’t wish to spoil it for you guys. Khaaliq eventually finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy to assassinate the CM. When he gets shot by the police, he wakes up in the same flight in which he came to Tamilnadu (Time loop!). Khaaliq’s efforts to find the people behind the whole conspiracy are what we see in Maanaadu.
The time loop is not a concept that is new to us. In fact, in one scene, Venkat Prabhu makes his characters say the names of those films that had used this concept. What I found good about this version of “Edge of Tomorrow” is the way Prabhu blends this loop concept into a setup that is very much within the framework of a typical Tamil entertainer. The writing here is extremely confident that they don’t need any distraction or diversion in the story to make it pleasing. And the acceleration of the script is gradual and peppy. The writing of the second half is the best part of this film where we are exploring the villain too. The practicality of the whole loop concept offers a lot of scope for outrageously funny sequences, and with someone like SJ Suryah getting the prime focus on those scenes, the entertainment quotient only increases.
Silambarasan as Abdul Khaaliq gets a meaty role here. It’s not a mere hero character with just a swagger. Venkat Prabhu’s Khaaliq is emotional and has limitations. And Simbu makes sure that Khaaliq comes out as a smart guy rather than an arrogant person. In terms of performance, I would say the real star is SJ Suryah. His ability to portray eccentricity without necessarily overdoing things is highly appreciable. The shift his character gets in the second half and the manner in which he pulled it off had a significant role in making this film hugely entertaining. Kalyani Priyadarshan is fine as Seethalakshmi, and her character is not a pointless addition to the script. Premgi Amaren and Karunakaran are your usual hero’s friends. YG Mahendran also plays an important role in the film.
Venkat Prabhu knows how important it is to keep the viewer totally occupied with the developments happening in the strategy of Khaaliq. And Maanaadu is a film that doesn’t decelerate at any point. And even when the film enters that full of action space, the concept allows it to explore the possibility of humor. And they achieve that without any hesitation. The script is the real star here. It challenges itself at regular intervals to keep the movie away from the viewer’s prediction. The editing is precise and enables the film to create some great set pieces that look stylish and also subtly explain the loop concept. Yuvan Shankar Raja has given the movie the kind of energetic background score it demands.
I am not saying Maanaadu is a path-breaking film. But Venkat Prabhu’s creation understands the grammar of a mainstream entertainer movie and offers something packed with the fun stuff. The only area where one could feel the script being a bit easy is the first 15 minutes of the film, which never repeats. After that initial turbulence, the film is steady and super fun.
The time loop concept gradually becomes a perfect podium for a cat and mouse game, making Maanaadu hilarious and unpredictable.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended