The whole plot of this film is set in Mahabalipuram, the temple town and a favourite tourist spot. It centers on five friends and the unfortunate turn their lives take. Elements of friendship and betrayal, avarice, guilt and redemption are all woven into the screenplay. The fact that this heritage town is a hub of drug trafficking and other crimes, forms the backdrop to the story.
The film opens with a scene in prison, where Panja the protagonist (Vinayak in his home production) is about to be hanged for a series of murders he has committed. The film then flashbacks into the events that had brought him, a sculptor of idols, to his current place on the death row. The early scenes help to establish the characters. But for quite a while we are not sure where the plot is headed.
The pace here is a tad slow as it depicts the bonding among the five friends and the way they stand up for each other in times of crisis. The characters have been fairly well fleshed out, the actors fitting in suitably. The changing of equations among them at a later stage, is convincing and believable. Vinayak (who has acted in supporting roles in a couple of films), plays Panja with understanding and handles the emotional moments in the latter part of the film with finesse.
The narration picks up momentum in the second half, where Durai, a powerful and influential man, plays his card. Durai (Jayakumar) with his share of every illegal business in the area, is eager to cater to the needs of foreign tourists. The screenplay with its twists and turns becomes more interesting as the story progresses. The scene at the prison where Panja meets his friend for the last time is a smartly handled one. The episodes leading to the finale are handled impressively by the debutant director. At a crisp 111 minutes viewing time, Mahabalipuram is a fairly engaging watch.