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