Maanaadu Tamil Movie Review

Feature Film | UA | Action, Political, Sci-Fi, Thriller | 2h 27min
Critics:
Maanaadu is a heady, high-concept action thriller. Writer-director Venkat Prabhu gets the concept of time loop down to a science. So, even if you have no idea about how time loop works, the movie will make you think and entertain you a lot.
Dec 8, 2021 By Sreejith Mullappilly

SHOWTIMES: INDIA  

Writer-director Venkat Prabhu's Maanaadu is a heady, high-concept action thriller. The movie begins in a pretty typical fashion. There is a passenger flight that waits for a very prominent person to enter it from another flight. Simbu gets a hero entry in a scene that kind of breaks the fourth wall. Then, Simbu's Abdul Khaaliq meets Kalyani Priyadarshan's Seethalakshmi on the flight, and they realize that they are going to the same wedding in Coimbatore. Then, there is a song sequence with a dance at the wedding venue. The first 30 minutes of Maanaadu is a usual fare. It is only when the main character enters the time loop situation that Venkat Prabhu's film soars visually and conceptually.


Maanaadu works as high-concept cinema and a spectacular action film. Usually, there is a pattern to the fight sequences you get to see in a South Indian action film. The hero bashes up a dozen people with just one kick or punch. There is barely any action choreography in standard hero-oriented movies in South Indian cinema, but Maanaadu is different here. It places Simbu in a big building with a flight of stairs that makes him move up one level at a time. Prabhu uses cinematographer Richard M. Nathan and stunt choreographer Stunt Silva to film this scene with terrific wall-to-wall action. It is not a set piece for the sake of a stunt sequence but rather is well worked into the script of Maanaadu.


The screenplay is the real winner here. Prabhu's film is self-aware about the time loop world of its characters. So, when Simbhu's character refers to a film like Groundhog Day, it works as more than a hat tip to Hollywood. It is more a way of telling the audience that this is a home-grown masala film with its own set of sensibilities.


If you are familiar with time loop films, you may know a thing or two about the arc of these movies and their characters. The main characters in Maanaadu exist in a sort of a world within a world, where the same set of events repeats itself when something untoward happens. Prabhu gets the concept of time loop down to a science. So, even if you have no idea about how time loop works, the movie will make you think and entertain you a lot. Moreover, Prabhu marries the concept with commercial film sensibilities in a way that respects the viewer's intelligence.


The main character here is a Muslim person trying to save a population from a large-scale calamity. How often do you see a film in India with a Muslim protagonist dealing deftly with sensitive topics such as Islamophobia? The film also works as a social commentary on how politics works in this part of the world.


The editing is paramount in a time loop thriller like Maanaadu. Praveen does a stellar job of editing this film ensuring that he maintains continuity of action while trusting the audience's capability to grasp the events in it. The aforesaid action sequence in a building is the best example of the quality of editing here.


Maanaadu may not even be half the film without the performers in it. Silambarasan gets a scene in a chair that he nails and is uber cool as an action star. Initially, a character wonders whether Simbu is Tom Cruise, another hat tip to a film like Edge of Tomorrow. Perhaps it is also a nod to the amount of running that Simbu does here, something which Cruise is known for. The other spectacular performance in Maanaadu comes from S. J. Suryah. As DCP Dhanushkodi, the actor is stylish, charming, and quite brilliant even in the slightly over-the-top scenes. He does comedy with flair and gets a thundering background score from Yuvan Shankar Raja.


Maanaadu is another reminder that masala action flicks work best when the villain is at least as powerful as the hero. The villain is the real deal in Maanaadu.

Sreejith Mullappilly

   

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