Film: Manal Nagaram
Director: Oru Thalai Ragam Shankar
Cast: Prajin, Gautham Krishna, Jaise, Tanishka, Varuna, V.K.
After establishing his credentials in Malayalam films as one of the top heroes of his times, and even having directed a couple of films in the recent past, Shankar returns to where he began — Tamil cinema. This is where he made his successful acting debut with Oru Thalai Ragam three decades ago.
Shankar’s debut directorial Tamil venture Manal Nagaram is set and shot in Dubai and centres around the lives of three migrant workers, their aspirations and heart aches and the hurdles that come in the way of realising their goals. The ambience of the film is different, the screenplay fairly neatly etched and the narrative style simple. The characters are well fleshed out and their turmoils touch a chord.
Mansur (Prajin) works as a sales commission agent in Dubai. His romance with Poornima (Tanishka), a waitress at a restaurant, has some cute moments. However, its not all that smooth sailing. Poornima’s back-story is touching and convincing. Prajin essays his part impressively and debutant actress Tanishka is his perfect foil. Anand, Mansur’s friend in search of a job (Gautham), is loved by Nisha (Varuna ), the daughter of a wealthy business tycoon (Shankar). The course of their love becomes slightly predictable towards the end. James (Jaise) the third character in the group, gets entangled in the affairs of the flesh-racket mafia and this complicates things.
The actors are suitably cast and fit in well. The film traces the adventures of the trio as they extricate themselves from a serious situation against the backdrop of Dubai’s stringent laws. Their affairs merge into each other’s issues effortlessly. The ‘blood money’ factor brings an interesting twist to the tale. And as in real life, it’s not a typical fairy tale ending for all. The pace does slacken a tad at times and there are minor glitches, but that in no way lessens the entertainment quotient of the film. With it’s fresh screenplay, Manal Nagaram is an impressive directorial debut by Shankar.