Director: Boopathy Pandian
Cast: Vemal, Anandhi, Prabhu, Robo Shankar
After a year with no releases, Vemal is back with Mannar Vagaiyara, which also marks his productional debut. The film has, while waiting for a release, seen a change in spelling just like his name.
With urban scripts not helping him much, Vemal has gone back to his roots with Mannar Vagaiyara, that has everything one would expect in a rural film — a happy-go-lucky hero, a close-knit family, a heroine from the antagonist’s family, sidekicks who provide the humour quotient, and of course, glorification of the caste system. Director Boopathy Pandian of Thiruvilaiyaadal Aarambam seems to move away from the city with each of his films and Mannar Vagaiyara is his most rural film till date.
So what sets Mannar Vagaiyara apart from the hundreds of village-based emotional family dramas we’ve seen before? Nothing actually. The film brings nothing new to the table. After all, it’s a story about three families and how different weddings break them apart and bring them together in the end. The film boasts of a huge cast and Boopathy has done a decent job of giving them all the screen space they deserve.
Vemal, as Mathiazhagan, looks tailor-made for his role. His beard and attire fit him perfectly and the actor looks better than ever. The script, too, plays to his strengths such as subtle humour — something we’ve enjoyed in films like Kalavani and Vaagai Sooda Vaa. The only drawback, something that’s been his problem for years, is his pronunciation when it comes to English terms. Mispronouncing words and saying barking area (parking area), sendimand (sentiment) and baisan (poison), end up making serious scenes, well, not so serious. Anandhi’s role as the college-going Ilayarani will probably go down as one of the most annoyingly bubbly characters in recent times. Though her antics seem endearing in the beginning, it gets frustrating after a while.
Robo Shankar’s comedy doesn’t work the way they want it to. This is evident right from his intro shot, where he repeats the same line a number of times to a senior citizen. Though being similar to the famous ‘Kalaile aaru mani irrukum’ line of his, this one falls flat. There’s also the same old boring humour about a wife having affairs, with lines like ‘thookitu ponathu jeep mattum ille, ungaloda keep’um thaan’, not to mention the dialogue where he justifies mentioning his caste in public — in a comical tone, of course. Surprisingly, the scenes involving the families provide a decent level of laughter, and the film overall has a fair dose of plain, good old humour.
On the technical front, PG Muthiah’s cinematography is top notch. Be it the aerial shots or the slow-mo ones in the action sequences, his work improves the overall quality of the film. There are ample action sequences, and they’re tolerably well done, though there’s one in which Vemal actually uses a stick which has cotton candy sticking out from one end. Something else that sticks out are the songs. Apart from breaking the film’s flow, they aren’t particularly enjoyable. It’s almost like the film’s team sympathises with you when one of the songs starts with ‘maama maama mudiyale maama’! But Jakes Bejoy makes up for it with a refreshing background score, something he has been consistent with in films such as his last Chennaiyil Oru Naal 2.
The film keeps glorifying caste at regular intervals and it’s not even necessary from a larger perspective. The runtime, too, could’ve been cut short. And oh, did I mention that Bigg Boss Julie makes a cameo appearance? Talk about arriving in style.
But despite all this, the film isn’t a tiresome watch as one would expect. And though the film’s been in the making for two years, nothing about it feels irrelevant or outdated either. On the whole Mannar Vagaiyara is a mediocre entertainer that might appeal a lot more to the B and C centres.