MAANASTHAN

A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam


Cast: Sarathkumar, Sakshi, Abbas, Vijayakumar, Sujatha, Mansur Ali Khan, Vadivelu
Music: S.A.Rajkumar
Direction: Bharathy
Uninspired is the word that comes to mind when watching Maanasthan, Sarathkumar's latest outing. For the most part, the director shows no inclination to surprise the viewer with any developments that have not been seen in other movies. Everything about the movie, from Sarathkumar's too-good-to-be-true character to the big twist midway, is so familiar that the entire first half can be predicted after seeing the first couple of reels. Thankfully, the second half throws up a few surprises, saving the movie from being completely redundant.

Dheivarasu(Sarathkumar), a farmer, is a good-hearted, selfless man for whom family is everything. He thinks the world of his parents(Vijayakumar and Sujatha) and has sacrificed his own education so that his younger brother Selvarasu(Abbas) could get a good education. He is soon to be married to Rasathi(Sakshi), his aunt's daughter. But his smooth life is derailed when a secret from the past makes his own father start hating him.

Maanasthan starts off looking like a clone of Muthu as Sarathkumar visits a temple and then sings a philosophical song while driving a bullock cart(S.A.Rajkumar's song, which sounds a lot like Oruvan Oruvan Mudhalali..., doesn't help either). While the movie soon gets over the Muthu hangover, that doesn't prevent it from appearing to be recycled from several other movies. Sarathkumar's too-good-to-be-true character is surrounded by other stock characters like the shy heroine, loving parents, devoted brother and a cousin with a score to settle from the past. Familiar situations abound and the proceedings are completely predictable.

The development midway is so common in Tamil movies that it is obvious long before the movie reveals it. But worse than the unsurprising twist is the way it is handled. The reaction of Vijayakumar is exaggerated right from the beginning but his act before the intermission is so over-the-top and extreme that it brings his sanity into question. The director has obviously aimed at a shocking revelation before the intermission point but has failed to consider normal human behavior while coming up with Vijayakumar's actions.

The director gains a few points though with his handling of the story in the second half. The romance between Sarathkumar and Sakshi does not proceed in predictable or usual fashion. There are also some doubts about the behavior of some of the characters after the revelation, which adds to the unpredictability. Too many of the characters have abrupt changes of heart towards the end but the climax maintains the spirit of the second half well.

Sarathkumar plays the rustic character with ease and his outpouring of affection seems natural. Sakshi overacs during the initial scenes but proves her acting mettle in the scene where she opposes her wedding. Vijayakumar earns our irritation because of the badly shaped characters while Sujatha is more natural as the affectionate mother. Abbas is adequate and gets one scene to show us that he can act too. Vadivelu evokes quite a few laughs and his encounters with Bharathy are mostly funny. S.A.Rajkumar resorts to his usual tactic of recycling both his and other music directors' songs.