‘Maamanithan’ movie review: Vijay Sethupathi, Gayathrie try their best to save this simple melodrama from sinking-Hdmoviefreedownload

Despite an enjoyable first half, ‘Maamanithan’ ends without any sort of payoff

Despite an enjoyable first half, ‘Maamanithan’ ends without any sort of payoff

Seenu Ramasamy’s heroes are not ordinary but extraordinary. They are extraordinary to the proportion that they are, in fact, superheroes. But unlike your regular superheroes, Seenu Ramasamy’s heroes draw their superpower from their virtuousness and goodwill gestures. In a sense, they are not just kind-hearted but have the heart of gold. So, it is only natural that Seenu Ramasamy’s screenplays are gold-plated minus the seikuli (labour) and setharam (collateral damage).

But the real damage in writing such good tales is, it becomes a tad simplistic and generic after a point. This is both a good and bad thing in Maamanithan. You revel in the simplicity of the plot and heave a sigh of relief for the existence of such plain stories, until your prayers go unanswered.

Maamanithan

Cast: Vijay Sethupathi, Gayathrie Shankar, Guru Somasundaram and Shaji Chen

Director: Seenu Ramasamy

Storyline: Deserting his family over a case of real estate fraud, Radhakrishnan is on the run. Will there be a redemption?

Maamanithan is a simple story of a simple father Radhakrishnan (Vijay Sethupathi) and his simple wife Savithri (Gayathrie in yet another role where she has to suffer. Please, can we have better characters written for her?) and his simple children. It is hard to guess the film’s timeline but going by the wallposters, it looks like Maamanithan is set in the 1990s — how appropriate, you might wonder. For, it has the vibe and emotion of V Sekhar’s films from the same era.

Vijay Sethupathi as Radhakrishnan takes pride in being the first auto driver in his town Pannaipuram, the hometown of music legend Ilaiyaraaja, who has composed for the film along with his son, Yuvan Shankar Raja. In the opening portion, we see Radhakrishnan with his kids and their routine: they take a ride in the auto, stop by at a tea shop owned by Ismaiel (Guru Somasundaram) to have eggs and buy freshwater fish.

There is a beautiful scene where the father tells the kids that whenever they go through a hard time in life, they need to take a run. Because running, apparently, makes the mind fresh and gives you clarity to think. What a boring piece of advice, you might think. But what Radhakrishnan says echoes into a plot point in the second half, where the roles get reversed and the daughter tells the father to run. This little moment in the opening portion provides the drama for the second half, where Radhakrishnan is on the run. And he is running all through his life, carrying the burden on his shoulder.

Maamanithan runs for over two hours. It is among the shorter films Seenu Ramasamy has made; the shorter runtime can be attributed to not having enough material. The first half is where the film’s most enjoyable. There is a story-within-story when we come to know Radhakrishnan and Savithri’s cut-short love story. It is a bedtime story that the father tells his daughter but something about this familiar tale makes you happy, even though the manner in which they get married is not exactly extraordinary.

But the film shifts gears during the interval point to become a melodrama. Whatever little pleasures that you so far enjoyed in Maamanithan get weaker in the second half. By the time the film ends, you feel it is incomplete. One’s not sure if it was due to budget issues, but whatever the case, Maamanithan ends abruptly without any sort of payoff.

There is a thread in the second half that kept me thinking. Radhakrishnan has left town to take refuge somewhere in Kerala, where he meets a widow and her daughter. For many years, he continues to live away from his family, though he continues to provide them financial support. In another film, another filmmaker might have felt tempted to show some sort of feelings that Radhakrishnan may have developed for the widow and her daughter. But Seenu Ramasamy’s films are not about manithans but maamanithans — when Ismaiel warns Radhakrishnan about sparrows building nests in his newly-built house that he locks up, the latter says, “It is okay. At least they have a house, no.”

In my Kaathuvaakula Rendu Kaadhalreview, I had written this about Vijay Sethupathi: “Something needs to be said about Vijay Sethupathi and the astonishing ability he possesses to remain sincere to the character he plays. Just watch out for him in the end when someone asks how he could love two women at the same time. Vijay gives a lame explanation using the film’s title. But something about his voice, the way he says it, makes you feel it comes from the heart. He makes you believe.” This holds true for Maamanithan too .

Just watch the man when he gets a meet-cute scene with Savithri or when he bursts out in anger at his to-be brother-in-law. Vijay Sethupathi makes it look genuine. Maamanithan is that script where both Sethupathi and Gayathrie do more for the film than what it does to them.

Maamanithan is currently running in theatres.

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