A taut and mostly gripping story which uses the narrative style of hyperlink storytelling to its full potential.
OVERALL SCORE –
Maanagaram is a 2017 Tamil crime-drama film written and directed by Lokesh Kanagaraj. It stars Sundeep Kishan, Shri, Regina Cassandra, Charle, and Murugadoss. The film follows the oft-intersecting lives of its four engaging lead characters over the course of a day in the city of Chennai.
I need only make one argument as to why this film works on multiple levels. That would be, the warm applause the film received as the end credits rolled. Almost everyone in my 150 people strong hall were thoroughly entertained by a truly well-made piece of cinema. There was a breath of fresh air and an uncanny nuance in the way the film’s story unfolds. The film boasts of one of the most compelling prologues one can watch. I would personally love to sit myself down, once the film comes out on home video, and study that prologue over and over again. The writing is so crisp and to the point, that one need only spend upwards of two minutes with each character to understand their personalities in the course of the aforementioned prologue.
The attention to detail is exemplary. The score is fitting and every song except one (you’ll know which one it is when you watch it) complement the film in a glorious way. The undercurrent of the film, even though prevalent, is smoothly done. The story of the film takes center stage always. The film is so confident with its material that it gives away its moral by the 60% mark of its running time. The film knows that it has the audience at the palm of its hand.
It is bloody fantastic.
The ride the audience is taken on by the film might be its crowning achievement. There are so many cogs at work as the narrative unfolds. I recollect watching the film at specific points and thinking to myself “Come on, please don’t get stupid now. You’ve been so good”, and the film delivered at every one of those instances. The film wants the audience to have a good time and it offers them complex characters with shades of gray to empathize with. The amount of praise I can heap on a film like this will surely take more than a 500-word writeup.
The performances are to the point, the morals are spouted out without being heavy-handed, the moments of suspense are dripping with tension, the dark sense of humor the film has and the method the film uses to get it across is something one can watch in only the top 10% of all films ever made. The one part of the film that just vaults it over everything else is how unpredictable the plot is. There are rarely any predictable plot threads and the film revels in revealing them to the audience while enjoying those revelations itself.
This is not to say that I have no gripes with the film. I do. The pace drops at a few points and there is also the ill-timed song I mentioned earlier. Some of the characters are a bit one-note sometimes and a certain romance track might not carry the weight the film thinks it does. But these are damn near unnoticeable when one is enjoying the film to the degree I was.
My friend and I started googling for more information about the film instead of having a conversation over dinner once we sat down at the table. If that doesn’t tell me that I have enjoyed this film to no end, nothing else will.
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