Wednesday, December 29

Man Madan Ambu is an absolute pleasure to watch.

Movie - Man Madan Ambu (Tamil)
Director - KS Ravikumar
Producer - Udhayanithi Stalin
Cast - Kamal Haasan, R Madhavan, Trisha, Sangeetha, Mohan Das, Manju Pillai, Ramesh Arvind, Urvashi, Usha Uthup, Caroline, Oviya, Sriman & Suriya (Special Appearance)
Music & Background Score - Devi Sri Prasad
Cinematography - Manush Nandan
Editor - Shan Mohammed
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues & Lyrics - Kamal Haasan
Release Date - 23rd December 2010

KS Ravikumar and Kamal Haasan have always had tremendous success whenever they have collaborated. Be it Avvai Shanmughi, Thenali, Panchathanthiram or their latest Dasavathaaram. Man Madan Ambu is a clear departure from the kind of films they've done together in parts, yet delivers what one would expect from a Kamal Haasan- KS Ravikumar entertainer.  And we get an absolute entertainer to end the year on a high note. 

Man Madan Ambu is the story of Man, Madan & Ambu (it also means Cupid's Arrow in a literal translation of the title) - Major R Mannar (Kamal Haasan), Madanagopal (R Madhavan) & Ambujakshi/Ambu (Trisha). Ambu alias Nisha is a top actress in Tamil with a busy schedule and she is engaged to a business tycoon Madanagopal. But Madanagopal feels insecure about his fiance, especially when he goes to visit her at her shoots and he feels that she might be having affairs with her co-stars. This makes a dent in their relationship and it runs into troubled waters, due to which Ambu goes away on a vacation to Europe along with her old schoolmate Deepa (Sangeetha) and her two kids. In the meanwhile, Madan sends a private detective Mannar to spy on Ambu and find out if she's having any 'jalsa' with other men during the vacation. Mannar takes up the job to pay the hospital bills of his friend (Ramesh Arvind) suffering from cancer. What happens later forms the story of Man Madan Ambu. 

Kadhai, Thiraikkadhai, Vasanam - Kamal Haasan. Very rarely have movies with these credits been bad experiences. (Except for many people who didnt like Dasavathaaram). And yes, Kamal Haasan's writing is one of the biggest strengths of MMA. The story, as we have already seen, is no great shakes. But as we all know, cinema is more about the screenplay than the story, and the fact that Kamal Haasan is a seasoned writer needs no explanation. The private detective angle alone is loosely inspired by the Hollywood rom-com There's Something About Mary. The best part about the writing is that are the characters and they way they have been fleshed out. Each character has a definite part to play in the story and contributes a lot in his/her own way. The movie is completely different from anything what KS Ravikumar has done in the past, and yet, he has done a good job of executing Kamal Haasan's script for the screen. They also bring in their own brand of humour from Avvai Shanmughi, Thenali & Panchathanthiram towards the climax of the movie. 

There is no point talking about Kamal Haasan's acting skills. So an analysis on his performance would be futile. But it is hard not to mention the effect that the man creates during small and subtle emotional scenes even in a film which is largely a comedy. The scenes where he speaks to his cancer-affected friend and wife are heart-wrenching to say the least. Everything that the man does on screen further reinstates the fact that he is one of the best actors ever, and he's clearly having fun in this movie after the heavy duty roles in Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu, Dasavathaaram & Unnaipol Oruvan. Madhavan is the star of the movie (other than Kamal Haasan, of course) with his absolutely fantastic performance of the perpetually drunk Madanagopal. He is a sheer delight to watch everytime he appears on the screen. I tweeted right after the movie - Give Madhavan in Kamal Haasan's custody and you can see wonders on screen. Anbe Sivam, Nala Dhamayanthi and now Man Madan Ambu stand testimony. His drunk act is extremely natural and reminds one of Mohanlal in his heydays where he had perfected the art of acting drunk. MMA definitely has one of Madhavan's career-best performances. 

Trisha is wonderful and 2010 is the year where she showed the audience that she can actually 'act'. With Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya earlier this year and now MMA, she is sure to walk away with all the best actress trophies. And the added attraction in MMA is that she has actually spoken in her own voice throughout the film which gives her performance much more authenticity. And yes, she recites a full-blown Tamil poem in chaste Tamil, and gives an explanation of why heroines have to speak in an anglicized accent as well. Sangeetha was having a ball throughout the movie and that is very evident from her performance. She was enjoying herself so much and it is hard not to like her in the movie. Again, a completely natural and spontaneous performance revealing the comic side of the actress. Mohandas (Kunjan for Malayalis) and Manju Kurup are hilarious as the Malayali producers behind Ambu and they add much more colour to the mayhem. One wishes that these actors were used like this in their original language also (they are very underrated in Malayalam). Ramesh Arvind leaves a lump in your throat, and so does Urvashi, who plays a subtle role after playing all those loud and comic roles in the recent past. Caroline, the beautiful French woman who plays Kamal's dead wife is gorgeous. Usha Uthup is gracious. The 2 little kids, especially the boy are a delight to watch. Suriya's special appearance as himself brings a smile on your face. And yes, there is the director KS Ravikumar also making his mandatory appearance, but this time, everybody on screen ignores him making it a funny moment of self-deprecatory humour. 

The film looks spectacular. It has been shot across various stunning locations like Paris, Barcelona, Rome and Venice and also on a humongous luxury cruise and cinematographer Manush Nandan captures all of them with aplomb. He is a cinematographer who is bound to go places. Bollywood cinematographers who get any location they want and yet fail to capture interesting visuals, should take lessons from him. MMA is one film which has used foreign locations very well without forcing it into the narrative. Editing by Shan Mohammed keeps the movie engaging with not one moment which is unnecessary. Costumes, done by Gauthami are also very pleasing to the eye and not the flashy ones we are used to seeing in Tamil films. And the most interesting technical aspect of the film is that it has completely been shot on sync sound (perhaps the only Tamil film after Aayitha Ezhuthu) and the technique completely enhances the performances and their spontaneity. I hope more and more filmmakers adapt this technique which makes the film & the performances much more real. 

Devi Sri Prasad comes up with his career best score in this film. The composer known for his catchy and funky songs gives a complete soundtrack, with songs penned by Kamal Haasan himself (except for Oyyale by Vivega). 'Dhagudu Dhathaam' is a fun track with even more fun lyrics and has Kamal breaking into an impromptu jig in the streets of Barcelona. 'Oyyale' is the kuthu track at the beginning of the movie with Suriya and Trisha and a suspicious Madhavan. Shot in Kodaikanal, this song fits in perfectly into the movie. 'Neela Vaanam' uses the technique from Monica Belluci's Irreversible & Coldplay's music video The Scientist to narrate the back-story of Kamal and his French wife. A beautiful and poetic song, the reverse technique with Kamal singing in sync works very well while narrating the entire flashback. Kamal's vocals and lyrics deserve special mention and so does DSP's tune. The most important song in the movie, sadly has been deleted due to some stupid controversy from some senseless religious groups. It is the 'Kannodu Kannai' kavithai between Kamal & Trisha. I was fortunate to see it on the first day since I saw the film outside South India and when I saw the movie a second time, the song was gone, leaving a huge blank, which takes away the romance from the movie. The poem, essentially a conversation between Kamal & Trisha in chaste Tamil about the qualities a man & a woman should possess for them to get married, is the main catalyst which further grows into a romance. Trisha's recital of the poem even though she's not very comfortable in Tamil, is exceptional and Kamal, of course is flawless. Andrea's 'Who's The Hero', the James Bond style introduction song for Kamal Haasan is also a great song. The background score (which includes the title song) is also brilliant and enhances many of the scenes. 

On the whole, Man Madan Ambu is a wholesome entertainer with a good mix of romance, comedy, action & emotions along with stunning visuals and great music. The exceptional performances from each member of the cast - from the lead trio of Kamal, Maddy & Trisha to even the most minor characters like Usha Uthup or the Sri Lankan cab driver, each and every one gives a brilliant performance. The deletion of the kavithai might make the romantic angle look unconvincing and I hope they restore the song to give the movie its due. But in spite of that, Man Madan Ambu is a great watch. Watch it along with your families and have a gala time in the theaters and end the year on a high note. :)

Rating - 4/5


  1. Thank you for Identifying the costume design for me. I was too preoccupied with the film to look at the credits properly. Love you review and totally agree on all counts! Found it a little freaky that we gave the same rating but that is the effect of the film I guess.Especially loved your tweet about Madhavan. You are half the reason I anticipated Madhavan so much since I read said tweet as well. After watching it, I even went to the extent of tweeting "Best Drunken Act Award" to Madhavan!! He was awesome..

    Great Movie and great review.. :)

  2. Thank You Githa. And yea, the costumes have always been by Kamal's better halves in most of his films. It was Sarika till they got divorced. And it has been Gauthami for the past 2-3 films if I'm not wrong.

  3. the only flaw with the movie was the 'SYNC SOUND'. many dialogues were illegible and u always have to listen sharply to hear what they are saying, thankfully these kind of films dont have much audience so i was able to watch it without much disturbance.

    I Was totally shocked hearing Trishas voice. iam hell shocked y did the makers used somebody elses voice for her all this while. has she dubbed in any other movie??

  4. cut cheytha song evideyanu actually varunnathu....trisha thante TABil(tab anennu honunnu)entho tamizhil ezhuthiyathayi kanikkunundu when kamal comes to her to rvl the truth...athano sambhavam?