Starring Udhayanidhi Stalin, Hanisika Motwani, Prakash Raj, Radharavi, Aishwarya Rajesh, Vivek. Directed by I. Ahmed.
After Paayum Puli and Pokkiri Raja, Manithan (Human) borrows its title from yet another Rajni's movie. But it is a remake of of Subhash Kapoor's 2013 Hindi film Jolly LLB. It is a court room drama based on real hit-and-run cases (Sanjeev Nanda case and another one involving Salman Khan. Exactly one year back Salman Khan was acquitted from that case). I. Ahmed, fresh after the success of his second movie 'Endrendrum Punnagai', has joined hands with Udhayanidhi Stalin, who is also producing the movie.
Manithan is about a bumbling small time lawyer, Sakthi, who is good for nothing but wants to make a name for himself to impress his fiancé. So he shifts his location from Coimbatore to Chennai, so that he can be a high court lawyer. However, he doesn’t get any clients as he anticipated. He ends up filing a PIL (Public interest litigation) against a rich guy, Rahul Dewan, just for publicity sake. Rahul allegedly killed six people by hitting them in his SUV under the influence of alcohol. The defending lawyer is terrorizing Aadisheshan, who is one of the leading lawyers in the country. How does Sakthi proceed with his case? Does he change himself in the process?
Ahmed has stayed faithful to the original but he has done a fair bit of work to set the plot in Tamil Nadu, with native touches. He could have, however, corrected some flaws in the original like not giving enough importance to the court proceedings or investigation or just general law related complications. Instead the director is more interested in throwing up some convenient twists and turns, and creating more drama. Even though we could easily guess how it is going to pan out, the movie is pretty engaging. The interval scene where the hero wears the helmet is a nice director touch. The movie strikes the right chords and resonates with the viewers, in wanting to see the triumph of justice at least on the screen. Few dialogues by Ajayan Bala are very good. But some of them are repetitive like the numerous times the hero gets criticized for being very ‘filmy’ in a real court.
Santhosh Narayanan’s background music fits the movie’s tone and helps in setting the mood. However, the songs could have been catchier. R. Madhi captures the proceedings in real locations (except for the court proceedings, of course), with a good eye for aesthetics. Editor J. V. Manikanda Balaji puts his efforts to present them smoothly.
Udhayanidhi Stalin could proudly say that this is his best performance yet. Although we cannot compare him with a powerhouse actor like original’s Arshad Warsi, he does believe in his acting. Starting his career by playing a sidekick for Santhanam in mindless comedies, then moving on to a dumb thriller movie as a solo hero and failing miserably, I believe he is figuring out his strengths and weaknesses finally. His name in the title cards comes after Radha Ravi and Prakash Raj. In the movie too, he let the stalwarts overpower him. Prakash Raj seems to be the de facto choice in remakes for playing a role essayed by Boman Irani. It is a cakewalk for him here, and his arrogance and stubbornness as a powerful lawyer is well portrayed. Radha Ravi is a pleasure to watch and his role will be remembered as one of his best performances (his father role in Pisasu still tops the list).
After Thozha, Vivek appears with his beard look once again (When is Kashmora releasing brother, so that you can change your getup?). He gives good support to Udhayanidhi in providing some comic relief but nothing too distracting. Hansika Motwani, though it is difficult to treat her as a native girl from Pollachi, does show some restraint with her act and tries to contribute to the movie for a change. Aishwarya Rajesh, who plays the journalist role, would have been more suitable as the Pollachi girl who guides the hero. Most of the supporting cast have done their job well. The most impressive of them, is the one who played the “Kamala Kanan” part in the climax. Check for yourself how he will move you with his performance, bringing a lump to your throats and some tears. His 5 minutes performance will stay with the audience even after the movie is over. (I couldn’t get his actual name. Once I find it, I will update here.)
To summarize, Manithan doesn’t spoil the goodwill of Rajni’s movie title and live up to its worth. It even tries to fit its titular character for these lines –
“பிறருக்காக கண்ணீரும் ,
சிந்தும் மனிதன் எவனோ
அவனே மனிதன்!” (the one who sheds tears and blood for others, he is human)
This is the first time I am going to recommend a movie that stars Udhayanidhi Stalin!
6, Review, Tamil, 2016