Mankatha after having played ‘uLLe veLiye’ for quite a while, strikes finally, AND in style! For his golden jubilee flick, Ajith, the ‘golden hearted’ lad of Tamil cinema teams up with the uber cool Venkat Prabhu and his gang of boys and the effect is exciting to say the least.
When you have the handsome Vinayak Mahadev (Ajith) team himself with a few boys on his ‘Money’ mission and when there is cop Prithviraj (Arjun) who is hot on their trail, what you get is a heady cocktail of events that suck you into the premise of Mankatha albeit a bit late.
For Venkat Prabhu, it is a huge responsibility to fuse in his irreverent style of film making with the sensibilities of Ajith’s image and the director has not compromised one bit here and kudos to him for this.
Mankatha unfolds languorously and takes its own sweet time to establish the premise when the major portion of the first half keep flitting in between many tracks with three romances. When you start wondering whether the movie is going anywhere at all, it shifts to third gear to be only brought down by a song or two. And when the director finally decides to cast everything else away and focus on the central plot, the story takes an interesting detour and mutates into a Grand Prix race all the way from the second half with Venkat Prabhu reserving all his aces for the climax.
There is always no dearth of humor in Venkat Prabhu’s films but in Mankatha it is a bit muted when compared to his other works. Mostly the comic lines are at the expense of Premji and the best example is his analogy with Youtube sensation Sam Anderson. Dialogues like - “Light pottutu daan otta koodadhu, lightaa pottutu ottalam” bring cheers. And the typical Venkat Prabhu’s conceptualization of humor in a serious situation still finds place but they are few.
The cat and the mouse game is exciting and the best part is you are never able to realize how many cats and mice are involved in the game. Even better is the fact that you cannot be quite sure of who is playing the double cross on whom and it is not until the final frame that you can put all the pieces together. Hats off to Venkat Prabhu for keeping the audience guessing all the way and scripting an absolute cracker of a climax! The chess board sequence just before the interval block is unique and intelligent.
The portions that looked unnecessary additions in the first half are all neatly explained in the context of things at the end, leaving no loose ends.
With an ensemble cast, there is every likelihood that at least a few would be relegated to the sidelines but all of them are there deservedly.
When we talk about performances, Ajith is unarguably the pièce de résistance of Mankatha and it is his uninhibited performance that captivates the audience. For him, it is a superb knock on the field well laid out by Venkat Prabhu. He simply sizzles in his action shots and his cute expressions in dance sequences are a revelation. The consistency in Ajith’s characterization is a major plus for the film. Next to Ajith, it is action king Arjun who has held on to his fort. Premji, Jaiprakash, Vaibhav, Mahat and Ashwin round out the supporting cast who blend in with ease with the story. As it is a men’s film, women have nothing to do in Mankatha.
On the downside, the number of gun battles and their lengths may tire you a bit and the vital heist which should have been extremely powerful lacks the fizz. Songs are not a value addition to the film at all and are mostly road blocks sans ‘Machi open the bottle’.
Success of a cinematographer and editor lies in their unobtrusive work in sync with the subject, and cinematographer Sakthi Saravanan and editors Praveen & Srikanth score in this department.
“Unakku ide maadiri 500 pondaati kedappa daa.” - with this dialogue, Ajith completes his mission of breaking all the syntax of a Tamil hero and has gone on to prove that an actor should strictly treat the script as the hero. Take a bow Ajith! It is a memorable 50th film indeed.
Verdict: Ajith's 'Golden' gamble with Venkat that has paid off !