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Mayakannadi : reflections of urban ambitions
Movie review

Mayakannadi Movie Review

Cast: Cheran, Navya Nair, Radha Ravi, Vinodh Raj

Direction: Cheran

Music: Ilaiyaraja

Production: Panju Arunachalam

Cinema is an art form that has lost its soul to commercialism. But once in a while a movie does come our way that seeks to enlighten as well as entertain. Mayakannadi is in that rare genre. Though Cheran may not have hit the bull’s eye this time with the entertainments, he does not fail in delivering a message. It takes courage to go in for the kind of narration that Cheran has adopted in Autograph, Thavamai Thavamirundhu and Mayakannadi, but then ‘one man with courage makes the majority’ and Cheran, who met with success on both his previous attempts has shown that he is not one to be swayed by commercial compulsions.

Mayakannadi is the first time that Cheran has left the village milieu and gone in for an out and out city subject. Cheran plays the typical young, trendy and ambitious person who just can’t seem to get enough out of life. He works as a barber (hair stylist, as the ones working in the trendy saloons prefer to be called) in a beauty parlor owned by Radha Ravi. Right next to this shop is the one in which Navya Nair works as a beautician. Boy meets girl and love blooms; that’s where the story begins. During their courtship, reality hits Cheran hard. His income is just not good enough to lead a happy (materially) life. Here Cheran (the character, not the director) sways to commercial interests.
He starts running from pillar to post trying to land a higher paying job. There are many interesting sequences here but the real clincher is when he decides to try his luck in movies. His antics in front of K.Balachander’s house trying to attract the director’s attention look very genuine, the scene draws applause from the audience. When nothing works and desperation runs high, common sense takes a back seat; here Cheran starts working for a smuggler. All the while the picture of Cheran’s younger brother toiling to take care of the family is patiently built. There is also Cheran’s roommate who starts off as a tea vendor and slowly climbs the ladders of prosperity.
It is during this period that Cheran’s mother falls sick and at the same time Cheran is caught red handed while smuggling goods. A two year sentence threatens to put an end to all his dreams. Navya Nair’s parents are scouting for a suitable boy but Navya is adamant in her love for Cheran. The scene where she pleads to her parents to let her wait for Cheran to return is touching.

Radha Ravi, as the owner of the saloon has done very well. His advice to the youngsters close to the end really makes everyone think. Cheran who has gone in for a change in looks has done a neat job as the discontent young man. Navya Nair has scope to perform and has used it well. But the real surprise is Vinodh Raj, who appears as Navya’s father. Vinodh Raj is none other than the father of Chiyaan Vikram. He does well as the strict but benevolent father; looks like acting runs in the family.
If there is a let down in the movie it must be the background music by Ilaiyaraja. The Maestro stamp is clearly missing in most places. The music and the scenes do not gel. Two songs grab attention. --- by Karthik and Shreya and Kaasu Illata, a thought provoking number by Ilaiyaraja himself. Otherwise, the album is pretty ordinary.
Well, if one had to sum up this movie it surely would be a difficult job. Looking at close to 3 hours in the theater and a pretty sluggish first half, it cannot be called an entertainer. Mayakannadi is by no means a mediocre movie. But it certainly falls short of the high standards that Cheran has set for himself. It makes you think but fails to touch. That is the difference between just another movie and a great movie.

But having said that, the movie is an earnest attempt and should be encouraged wholeheartedly. Such movies do not happen very often. So, leave your expectations at home, forget about masala mass entertainers and go watch this one, for it will make you reflect upon yourself.
The age old but pertinent lesson that the movie teaches can be summed up in one line- ‘a rolling stone gathers no mass’.

Mayakannadi- a message that must not be missed.
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