In the opening scene of Maanagaram, a character tells his interviewer that he would prefer working in his native, a small town, but given that working in the city is considered to be prestigious, he has decided to take up a BPO job. We think this is going to be one of those city-bashing films that make it a point to remark at every opportunity how bad the city and its people are, but director Lokesh Kanagaraj gives us an exquisite, even-handed thriller — handsomely shot (Selvakumar SK), tightly edited (Philomin Raj) and propped up by a grungy score (Javed Riaz) — that unobtrusively makes its points while narrating a gripping story. The fact that most of its crew are first-timers makes this feat all the more remarkable.
For Sri (restrained, in a good way) the young man in the interview scene, the city feels hostile. He is roughed up and left on the road on his first night in the city, with no one bothering to help him. He is a young man from a small town (the ‘aattukkutty’ amidst ‘onaais’), and he is infuriated that people aren’t courteous — he’s offended by everyone calling the other ‘O*ha’ (for once, the censor board has been sensible and not muted this word) to one another. Sundeep (effective) is a brash, tough guy, but with his heart in the right place. He is in love with a well-employed girl — the interviewer in the first scene, played by Regina — but has a carefree attitude towards life. Charle (solid, as usual) is a taxi-driver who has moved to the city for the sake of his son, who is sick. When a kidnapping goes wrong, these three everyday characters (they make up the left, right and centre of the film respectively) are caught in a life-threatening situation (involving merciless gangsters and unscrupulous cops) that makes them question their choices and take a stand.
( 4 / 5 )