Screenplay and Direction
Technical Aspects and BGM
Ambitious, Undeniably Absorbing Thriller!
Summary : Maanagaram is an ambitious, undeniably absorbing thriller set in the backdrop of Chennai with first-rate ensemble performances. Debutant director Lokesh Kanagaraj has announced his arrival as a promising filmmaking force loud and clear.
Cast: Sundeep Kishan, Sree, Regina Cassandra, Charlie, Ramdoss (Munishkanth), Madhusoodhan
Cinematography: Selvakumar SK
Editor: Philomin Raj
Music: Javed Riaz
Story, Screenplay & Direction: Lokesh Kanagaraj
Produced by: Potential Studios
Release Date: 10-03-2017
Debutant Lokesh Kanagaraj’s Maanagaram is an ambitious, undeniably absorbing thriller set in the backdrop of Chennai with first-rate ensemble performances. It is cinematic storytelling of the highest order as far as interwoven narrative structure is concerned in Tamil cinema. Despite the hyperlinked storytelling, the plot, mostly, unfolds in a linear arrangement and brims with delightfully engaging twists and turns.
Lokesh has meticulously built the screenplay with four distinct storylines which get connected to a mistaken abduction of a little boy, who is the son of a local kingpin.
At a time when Tamil filmmakers have been ruthlessly stereotyping urban dwellers as self-centered monsters, Maanagaram is a breath of fresh air, which goes deep into the minds of a motley of characters, their struggles and the harsh realities of life in a metropolitan city. The comforting friendship that brews towards the end offers viewers a subtly passionate payoff.
The film is fluidly staged and flawlessly executed with unflappable panache. Albeit the concept may sound derivative, Lokesh’s startlingly ingenious writing which explores the depths of believable human emotions surely stands out. How he utilizes ‘compassion‘ and ‘empathy‘ as thematic elements, along with intertwined sentiments, to propel the story forward is just commendable. He definitely knows his craft.
Thoroughly grounded in reality without any OTT display of heroism, Maanagaram is quietly driven by performances. Mundasupatti fame Munishkanth’s (actor Ramdoss) ecstatic mix of black humor and innocence genuinely ups the entertainment value without distracting the narration. He’s, certainly, my pick of the performances.
Sundeep Kishan is a sweet surprise; he portrays his role of a devil-may-care loafer with great verve and style. He comfortably exudes poise, swag whenever he appears on screen. Sree plays an outsider who comes to Chennai with the aim of earning a handsome salary in a software company and he has nailed the role, which is tailor-made for him. What a lovely comeback on screen from Regina Cassandra after Rajathandiram. She has done good justice to her role and appears like an ideal match of an actor to her character. Her lip-sync too is impeccable. And, she has Selvaraghavan’s Nenjam Marappathillai up next. The ever-bankable veteran Charlie, as usual, has done a nifty job.
Another awe-inspiring fact about Maanagaram is the number of debutants who have worked on the project along with Lokesh Kanagaraj. The film is a maiden feature experience for cinematographer Selvakumar SK, editor Phil Omin Raj and music composer Javed Riaz, who form the cornerstone of the crew. With a major chunk of the story set during the night-time, Selvakumar’s frames astutely capture the surroundings of North Chennai. His stock-still shots create the right amount of tension in fight sequences, staged brilliantly by the stunt duo Anbariv. While handling the subject of multiple narratives is a challenging proposition, editor Philomin Raj’s lucid presentation legibly conveys the story to audiences with great ease. Javed Riaz’s background score is great, especially the endearingly minimalist techno sound set to the fight scenes.
Overall, Maanagaram is a completely captivating movie-watching experience in a serious genre like ‘hyperlink cinema’. It’s nothing short of a masterpiece. Director Lokesh Kanagaraj has announced his arrival as a promising filmmaking force loud and clear. I will be eagerly waiting to see what he churns out in his sophomore effort.