WHY THALA, WHY? Why the hell did we have to wait for so long? But I tell you what, this film is surely a dedication for all of you that survived and endured the likes of Asal and Aegan, those of you who took the harder route of sticking on faithfully to your favourite star, unlike other fans who walked away at the sight of stars half his height and one-fourth his charisma! As a Thala fan who believes in his star’s ideology of being frank, honest and outspoken, let me make things loud and clear. Mangaatha is definitely not the best movie I have seen: in fact, it’s a very average movie that’s slow, occasionally immature and has a leading lady at her irritating best. Then why is it being celebrated and wowed over and over again by fans and critics alike. One word: THALA!
This film is nowhere close to the likes of Saroja and Chennai28 in terms of quality and I’m sure Venky knows that. But Venky is a smart cookie who plays his cards intelligently: that’s precisely why he made Mangaatha! He has made a lot of compromises, it’s a genre which is not within his comfort zone at the moment, but then he has built up his game around his trump card: a calculated compromise which has eventually won the game for him, comprehensively at that. Unlike his other ventures, Venky has got himself to accommodate unwarranted duet numbers and romantic speed breakers into the plot, possibly to woo his leading lady (a saleable, popular star herself) into the ensemble. This is probably Venky’s biggest blunder as he should have realised at some point that he doesn’t need backup stars when the king of screen presence, who can literally walk his way through a movie and yet make it a success, is in attendance!
Mangaatha is bound to be a resounding success because its maker has effectively used the hype, the symbolism and the euphoria surrounding the movie in an innovative manner. It’s a sensational celebration, a coronation of a king’s attitude; a king who doesn’t mind calling himself one, without a hint of worry about the responsibilities that are attached to it. He doesn’t flaunt a six-pack, he doesn’t have one in the first place, he sees no point in blowing up one’s biceps to the size of balloons, he doesn’t dye or colour his hair, he doesn’t speak dialogues oozing male chauvinism and resorts to mouthing expletives if and when he gets a chance instead; he drinks, smokes and sleeps around. He is not a champion of the poor and he doesn’t hug the heroine in the climax as he dumps her earlier as soon as his job is done; instead, he hugs a bit**, shoots her and says something that would have made her repent her entire life for that one moment before she dies as cheap fans like me got up and roared. The director has intelligently gone in for a close up shot fully aware of the fact that those two precious words were going to be censored! Thala is bad, dangerous and menacing; most importantly, he remains that way till the credits roll. He doesn’t reform and head towards the Himalayas after speaking dialogues laden with ambiguity and hope. Full marks to Venky for the beautiful, consistent characterization.
Venky comes up with a mixed bag this time: he has erred quite frequently, his immaturity and inexperience showing up here and there. The film deserves some merciless scissoring and the film’s length would put the Mahabaratha to shame. Venky has this tendency to overdo certain things: the shot before the climax where Thala looks right into the camera lens in a staggering close-up with a sinister smile on his face is a tad too long. It makes us feel a little uneasy: the uneasiness of sitting in an interview and thinking for an answer as four stern-faced people stare at you, waiting. The scene where Thala makes Trisha understand that she has been conned, without any dialogues but with a single action very much in tune with the attitude of Vinayak Mahadevan is simply brilliant! But why the hell did he have to follow it up with a “soga paatu” in which Trisha sheds plastic tears, especially when Trisha’s foray in the film ends with that song? How many times do we hear Thala say “money, money, money” and “I’m impressed”? The scene before the climax where Thala charts out his plan with a chessboard is gimmicky and unwarranted, but it definitely serves his purpose: putting “Thala” at the centre of everything and giving him a chance to exhibit his inherent exuberance and an exhibition of the exorbitance of lazy elegance that he’s famous for! Come on. It’s a star vehicle, stop looking for logic and meaning or relevance in every scene. The same holds for the very first scene.
Most of the songs are horrible and are a pain to watch onscreen. But Vilayadu Mangaatha was brilliant and Thala looked awesome! Machi open the bottle is peppy and offers us a pleasant treat: THALA DANCE! @Thala: graphics thaaney? :D The background music is apt and beautifully enhances the feel. And the grand trumpeting to signal the arrival of Thala in his fiftieth Avatar: WHAT AN IDEA YUVANJI!
The rest of the cast don’t have much to do but Arjun does impress with an extended cameo. Mangaatha is a gamble that has been materialised with two big gambles in mind, two sacrifices done in the hope of achieving a bigger bounty: Ajith at the expense of Venkatprabu and the box-office result at the expense of the film’s quality. Fair deal, I should say! GAME WON! Make way for the king and for the first blockbuster of the year. Ajith fans, enjoy youselves and Venkatprabu fans, you guys have some waiting to do! And the others, it’s definitely worth a watch!