In Man Madhan Ambu, Kamal Haasan proved once again that he can be a hell of a dialogue writer. That leaves fans of Kamal Haasan the actor cold because as a scriptwriter overall (in Tamizh films, dialogue writers are usually separate from screenplay writers), he wrote one of the dullest role for himself. This celluloid masochism takes a while to digest, especially for this writer who has been a fan for the last 27 years.
Anyway, the dialogue writer sure worked overtime, as the characters here, not unlike Woody Allen films, spend most of their waking hours talking. The dialogues can sometimes be awesome, and sometimes be done with simply because there are only two competent performers in this film, but more to that later.
Man Madhan Ambu is a baffling piece of filmmaking because when Kamal is in it, you expect magic. You expect stretching of boundaries, breaking of rules, and firm rooting in credibility and plausibility. In MMA, you get flimsy storyline wrapped in an almost three hour tourism promo video. Shot in
The story seemed to be related to that of There’s Something About Mary by Farelly brothers. But to credit the brothers for the private eye plot would be to credit Shakespeare for coming up with the assassination plot in Julius Caesar. But there is more just hiring of detective to spy on a lover, but there’s nothing new to it, and it includes easiest plot device that Tamizh films has been overusing for decades: coincidence.
Kamal plays an ex-commando turned detective, Mannar, who was hired by rich dude, Madhan (Madhavan) to spy on the latter’s lover film actress Ambujam@Nisha (Trisha), whereby the transaction involves paying for Mannar’s buddy/partner’s chemotherapy. Then, there are many other characters that comes in and complicates thing ala films Kamal wrote with Crazy Mohan in the past.
There are more misses than hits in the film which we see Kamal handling a role that can easily be done by any other decent hacks. True the hacks can’t do 25% of what Kamal contributed here, merely as an actor, but we have seen it all before. Trisha with her Buster Keaton demeanour rides on somewhat well-written role, and then there was Sangeetha, whose overwritten role made me want to get up and shout, “shut up, bitch!”.
One impressive moment involves a flashback sequence with song, shot in reverse. It was one of the best thing I had ever seen in films of recent times, but most of the best things I saw in recent times on film usually are quickly forgotten give or take couple of months.
But true saviour of this film is Madhavan. Descending from an uptight, possessive, arrogant affluent businessman to goofy alcoholic loser, Madhavan is a one man laugh fest all the way. I bet Kamal had already had Madhavan in his mind when writing the character, as I firmly believe; as of now, only Madhavan can justify it. Kudos to Kamal the writer and Madhavan the fabulous actor who, sadly, will not be recognised by most of the Tamizh film fans which are busy making stars out of low-graders and Kamal wannabes.
But there was something disturbing in my mind when I left the theatre. In one scene, there was a shot where the camera was positioned in front of Trisha’s stretched legs (she was wearing shorts), for a very long period of cinematic time. It reminded me of pork roast my wife did for Christmas. I don’t know why the shot exists. What was the director, K.S. Ravi Kumar (by the way) trying to tell us? What will the future generation of movie goers going to think, when they see this? In a Kamal film? And Trisha gets second billing during the credit scene, ahead of Madhavan. I give up.