Kathal Mannan

Kathal Mannan
 Maanu, Karan, MS Viswanathan

Kaadhal Mannan introduced us to three new faces - one on the screen and two behind it - but the three have found varying degrees of success. Director Sharan, an assistant of K.Balachander, has made a name for himself as a hit director, with all three of his movies (after Kaadhal Mannan, he made Amarkkalam and Paarthen Rasithen) being hits. He shows promise in this movie with his stylised handling of the delicate story of a man falling in love with a woman who has already been engaged to another man. Music director Bharadwaj too makes a strong bow but has surprisingly been rather low-key since, making a mark only in Sharan's movies. Heroine Manu disappeared after this movie and is nowhere to be seen.

Shiva(Ajith) is a mechanic, a daredevil known for attempting daring acts for the sake of a bet. One such bet takes him to Delhi where he meets a woman who asks him to deliver a letter to her younger sister. This younger sister is Thilothama(Manu), who is all set to be engaged to Ranjan(Karan), the man of her father's choice. But that doesn't stop Shiva from falling in love with her. Against her better sense, Thilothama too finds herself falling for Shiva.

As long as the movie deals with the interactions between Ajith and Manu, it is enjoyable. The confusion of Manu has been brought out especially well as she struggles between acknowledging her feelings for Ajith and accepting her father's orders. The couple's trip to Delhi is one such portion that is unhindered by others and the sequence does a good job of registering Manu's gradual falling for Ajith. Even the bet Ajith makes with Manu, though seeming silly in concept, has been executed well.

It is only with the other characters that Sharan slips up. Unlike the recent Minnale, he makes things easy for Manu (and therefore, less interesting for us) by making Karan an easy-to-dislike character. And Sharan doesn't stop there. Karan's mother is an irritating character that any woman would dread getting for her mother-in-law. Such cardboard characters take any seriousness out of the movie. And though Vivek's character has some nice moments and lines, many of his acts and dialogs are unrealistic. The strictness of Manu's father is also overdone though Karan's father is much more believable.

The movie is aided by a well-handled climax. Ajith's visit to Manu's house, his dialogs there and the subsequent events are picturised in a nice manner that presents a satisfactory closure to the issues. Ajith comes into his own in these scenes and his outburst at Girish Karnad is convincing. Though Karan's character takes a beating thereafter, the climax isn't lengthened beyond what is needed and is crisp.

Kaadhal Mannan was one of Ajith's hits during a lean period for him(and he has had more than his share of those!) and he puts his heart and soul in the character. Manu looks good in some of the angles and does a good job with her tough role. M.S.Viswanathan appears in front of the camera for the first time as a Kannadasan-loving canteen owner and makes us laugh at a few places, spouting old songs for each situation. Vivek gives him company and his smaller love affair has a few laughs too. Girish Karnad is perfect as the dictatorial father.

The movie has a new music director in Bharadwaj and he does a great job. His title song Kanni Pennin... is catchy and a bit of its tune also serves as a very nice background music at several points. Unai Paartha... is another songs that showcases SPB's singing talents while Vaanum Mannum... is melodious. Sharan picturises the songs interestingly too. For instance, Thilothamaa... fits into the background very easily for the trip Ajith and Manu make to Delhi.

Review by Balaji Balasubramaniam

<< back