Tamil Movie Reviews:

MANADHODU MAZHAIKKAALAM   

Cast: Shaam, Nitya Dass, Samiksha, Jaisurya
Music:  
Direction: Arputhan
 

I'm sure there's a good movie waiting to be made about the purely platonic friendship between a man and a woman but Manadhodu Mazhaikkaalam's not it. While it treats the friendship fairly, the disregard for other relationships and tendency to skip over the most interesting parts of the friendship make the film more than a little dissatisfying.

Shiva(Shaam), now living with his son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter, is off to visit his friend in the hospital and on the way, he reminisces about the good ol' days. In college, Shiva and Satya(Nitya Dass) became close friends after she helped him out when he got in trouble with the police. Then on, they became best friends who were pretty much inseparable. Meanwhile Sruti(Samiksha) was in love with Shiva though he showed no sign of reciprocating her feelings.

MM is a movie that has friendship rather than romance at its heart. While romance does play a part, it remains in the sidelines and it is the friendship between the lead pair that occupies centrestage. And the movie succeeds in giving this friendship the respect that it deserves. It doesn't treat the friendship as simply a springboard for love and makes us believe that a man and a woman can be friends without romantic feelings in either of their hearts. But like most movies, it does go overboard in portraying their friendship sometimes and some of the scenes are quite unrealistic.

The film exhibits an alarming tendency to start sidestories and then drop them completely. The college chairman election is one such track that, after it happens, is never mentioned again. Even romance gets the short shrift as Samiksha, after declaring her liking for Shaam, disappears for a long time as Shaam and Nitya Dass become best friends.

A man and a woman being close friends in college is not all that uncommon, even in the movies. Its in the life after college that friendship gets really tested. Its when they move apart and let other people and relationships enter their life, that the friendship is put to the test. MM disappoints by fast-forwarding through this interesting phase. While it makes things easier by moving one of the characters out of the picture, it doesn't give us even a glimpse into the lives led by the remaining characters. This segment will not be missed in a film that ends in a certain period of the character's life. But considering that this film is bookended by scenes of an aged Shaam, it feels like a big chunk of his life is missing.

MM highlights the friendship between a man and a woman but one feels that it has done so at the expense of other relationships. Almost every other relationship(including other friendships!) gets a raw deal and comes off looking bad while the central friendship is placed on a pedestal. For instance, Shaam's friends are portrayed as guys who let him down in time of need and then lie to him about it. Towards the end, the movie turns its guns on offspring as Shaam comments on the sacrifices made by parents for their children and the returns they get. The movie does end on a positive note but only after a lot of bitterness.

Shaam is his usual self as the college guy. His hairstyle and makeup make him look a little weird in the first song but he looks normal after the song. Nitya Dass looks very ordinary and one feels she landed the heroine's role only because she didn't need to be romantic. Samiksha, on the other hand, looks and acts cute. Too bad she has so little screen time. Jaisurya overacts initially but calms down later.

Courtesy:  Balaji Balasubramaniam
 

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