Even with the regular inflow of stinkers, Kollywood managed to spring two pleasant surprises on me in the last week. Last Friday I saw an experimental film, Maalai Pozhudhin Mayakkathiley, the whole of which takes place in a coffee shop. One week later, I see another experimental attempt. Madhubaanakadai takes place in a confined space too. This time it's a bar. While Maalai Pozhudhin Mayakkathiley might have been a matter of a few hours, Madhubaanakadai examines an entire day at a bar. As much as I appreciate ambitions, I'll have to admit that they are both failed experiments.
Madhubaanakadai is slightly better, though. It's got nice visuals, Europeanized cinematography, a quietened mood, an effectively slow pacing and is, fairly detailed and descriptive. We actually get to see the workings of the wine shop; like we, the audience, were being taken on an industrial visit. Various characters come and go, few of which return. But one thing is for sure- they all end up there as wasted abominations. There's a constant resentment on the face of the bar owner for having to deal with all these unstable alcoholics on a daily basis. Instead of feeling trapped in this uneventful film, we get comfortable; which is why I expected it to pick up speed in the second half. But the film wanders aimlessly and ends up in unfamiliar territory. The principal characters get brushed aside, their fates remain unknown for the most part and they're replaced by total strangers. Even the setting, which we've gotten comfortable in, looks like a whole different place.
Director Kamala Kannan who has handpicked his actors gets them to live their parts. Emotions are held back with the same fluency with which they are revealed. There are two well-stationed music numbers in Madhubaanakadai, a film that's better shot and directed than written. But it doesn't amount to much. We remember characters as one-quirk personalities, not human beings that we can relate to on a personal level. The only character we really understand is the locale- Madhubaanakadai.
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