Review By : Movie Run Time : 2 hour 15 minutes Censor Rating : U

Production: KE Gnanavel Raja - Studio Green Cast: Madhampatty Rangaraj , RJ Vigneshkanth, Shweta Tripathi Direction: Raju Saravananan Screenplay: Raju Murugan Story: Raju Murugan Music: Sean Roldan Background score: Sean Roldan Cinematography: Selvakumar SK Dialogues: Raju Murugan Editing: Philomin Raj

In one of the many beautiful scenes in Saravana Rajendran's Mehandi Circus, Jeeva (a restrained Madhampatti Rangaraj) goes to Maharashtra in search of Mehandi (Shweta Tripathi), where he meets one of their mutual friends. After knowing her whereabouts, the friend says "At the end of the day, our hearts are of the same size". As an extension of this theme, the film does not disrespect any character, nor does it place anyone on a pedestal, including the leads. The film addresses casteism and places emphasis on being human. The characters are painted with grey shades and no one is a villain as such. Everyone has a real motive to their actions, making their character arcs look complete. 

While we are being set up for a romantic story taking place in 1992, a commentary on the liberation of women is subtly interwoven. Jeeva's father(Maarimuthu) is a man who puts his caste ahead of his life. Jeeva's mother is trapped in a failed marriage and all she does is embroidering ducks on pieces of cloth. Things are different in Mehandi's family. She is a target girl for a knife-throwing stunt in a circus troupe, following the footsteps of her mother and grandmother, or rather being forced to. In Mehandi's words, "My grandfather forced my grandmother to do this. My father forced my mother to do this. But, you're the only one who asked if I like this or not." The knife-throwing board is a metaphor to their lives - They are stuck in the middle, risking their lives, while men keep throwing knives at them.

Set in 1992, there is a lot of attention to detail, especially in the dialogues(penned by Raju Murugan). Jeeva and Othavedi (RJ Vigneshkanth) run a cassette shop and we see a group of men asking them for the cassette of AR Rahman's debut film Roja. There are posters of Maine Pyaar Kiya on the walls of their shop (the film's album was best selling Bollywood song in that period). There are references to the top films of that period like Mani Ratnam's Mouna Raagam and Thalapathi.

There is a scene where a couple elopes, and two different caste groups complain that it is because of the Ilayaraja song Jeeva plays, that they fell in love. Later, Jeeva and Mehandi's love get established when Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhonsle's Ye Raathen, Ye Mausam plays at the cassette shop. It further blossoms as Ilayaraja's 'Oh Paapa Laali' plays in the background (How many times has Raja helped our love?). In fact, Ilayaraja plays such an important role in the film that the cassette shop is named 'Rajageetham'. Towards the climactic portions of the film, we see a shot where the walls of the shop are faded, yet a drawing of Ilayaraja alone stands the test of time, much like the man himself.

Even Sean Roldan's background score seems to be influenced by Ilayaraja, on a positive note. It brings back nostalgic moments and creates a retro feel. The instruments and sounds are more natural, keeping in mind the year the film largely operates in. He cuts loose wherever possible, however, the usage of silence at a few portions could have made things better. On the other hand, Selvakumar SK uses an amber tone throughout the film, and the visuals like like paintings. The usage of sunlight is also brilliant, as seen in the sequence where Jeeva has to perform a risky task involving Mehandi to prove his love to her father. As she takes her position in front of the knife-throwing board, the sunlight reeks through the cracks on the board, intensifying her hope. 

On the downside, the film gets predictable at certain stretches. Even the 'big' twist at the end isn't as big it thinks it is. But the film doesn't bank on that one moment alone. The film's slow pace makes us lose connect often and we need lots of patience to keep ourselves engaged. These issues are compensated by the refreshing performances. Shweta Tripathi, in particular, deserves a note of appreciation. The way she changes her expressions in scene mentioned above makes us squeal in joy. In another scene, where she is trapped with a man, she looks out through the window, hoping for someone to save her. The sun kisses her face, and Ilayaraja's 'Oh Paapa Laali' makes an appearance again. These are the effervescent moments that make Mehandi Circus lively.

There is a dialogue in the film that says "Life is like a circus, there is a knife on top of our heads. For one, it is his caste, for another, it is love, and for some, it is embroidering doves." Similarly, Mehandi Circus too has a knife hanging above, but the film doesn't worry about it and comes across as an honest piece of art that makes you feel good.


Verdict: Mehandi Circus is a feel-good film, interwoven with a message on women liberation. A good watch!


3 5 ( 3.0 / 5.0 )




Mehandi Circus (aka) Mehandhi Circus

Mehandi Circus (aka) Mehandhi Circus is a Tamil movie. Madhampatty Rangaraj , RJ Vigneshkanth, Shweta Tripathi are part of the cast of Mehandi Circus (aka) Mehandhi Circus. The movie is directed by Raju Saravananan. Music is by Sean Roldan. Production by KE Gnanavel Raja - Studio Green, cinematography by Selvakumar SK, editing by Philomin Raj.