K. S. Ravikumar and ‘Ulaganayagan’ Kamal Hassan together came up with gems such as Thenali and Panchathanthiram, so I was excited to see what they could produce in latest release Manmadan Ambu. The film also stars Madhavan and Trisha Krishnan, as well as other familiar faces including award-winning actress Sangeetha (Pithamagan), actress Urvashi and singer Usha Uthup.
The guest appearance by talented actor Suriya within the first 5 minutes bode well (I’m a Suriya fan), and MMA ended up being a true entertainer from start to finish. This is the first time Madhavan and Kamal Hassan have worked together following 2003’s critically acclaimed "Anbe Sivam". Manmadan Ambu appears to have been written in a similar vein to Anbe Sivam; a comedy that still has a meaningful message. But conversely to Anbe Sivam which ended on a slightly sad note, it is the first half of MMA that is more poignant, whereas the second half is an hour of pure comedy, drunken ramblings and lots of amusing chaos!
Madhavan plays Madhan; the jealous, highly suscpicious fiance of actress Ambujakshi (Trisha). Eventually Madhan’s constant interrogations and inability to trust drives the couple apart, and Ambu ends up going to France to visit her recently-divored friend Deepa (Sangeetha). Madhan hires Major R. Mannan (Kamal Hassan) to act as a private investigator and follow Ambu, on the condition that he will pay the hospital bills of the Major’s friend (played by Ramesh Aravind), who is a cancer patient. When Madhan goes back on his word to pay up, the Major then changes his honest approach, resulting in a whole load of mix-ups, mess-ups and hilarity.
Kamal Hassan’s portrayal of the compassionate Major was impeccable, and together with Madhavan’s comic timing, drunken slurring and his portrayal of an incredibly jealous boyfriend, the duo stole the show. Sangeetha’s role as a slightly bitter but fun-loving divorcee was truly endearing, especially when she tries to convince Ambu to marry the rich guy and then divorce him if it doesn’t work – "Bad matrimony, but good alimony" is her motto! Trisha did her own dubbing – very well, might I add – and Sangeetha’s peppy character was a joy to watch. Also special mention must go to Ramesh Aravind’s emotive performance as a cancer patient. The locations throughout were wonderful, starting off in scenic Kodaikanal and touching on Rome, Barcelona and Paris before ending up in Venice.
Devi Sri Prasad‘s music was another highlight in this film. There were no overly-choreographed numbers; the majority of the songs were interwoven into the film in such a slick manner that they didn’t detract from the plot. The song Neela Vaanam’s picturisation was certainly inventive, and though the portrayal of the pure love between Kamal and his wife was beautiful, the fact that the ENTIRE video was backwards was something I found a little distracting.
All in all, despite a slow-moving start, the latter half certainly picked up pace and left the audience in good spirits. It may not be the best that Kamal Hassan and K. S. Ravikumar have produced, but it is worth a watch. Go in expecting the craziness of Panchathanthiram, with a dash of the sentimental side seen in Anbe Sivam, and MMA will not disappoint.
3.5/5 for Manmadhan Ambu: despite its seemingly ludicrous plot, it ends up being a fun-filled family-entertainer with just the right balance between tugging on your heartstrings and making you laugh out loud.
Words: Kavya Rajagopalan © Thamarai.com 2010
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