It is a Venkat Prabhu film with Ajith and Premgi in it called Mankatha! Obviously, I wasn’t expecting to see a meaningful film that would be a path breaking initiative in overriding Tamil stereotypes. Even as a fun-film that one should watch without exercising their brain cells, this film is trashy!
Mankatha begins with a promise. A fancy entry for Vinayak Mahadevan (of course Ajit), a stunt scene establishing his invincibility, betting in Indian sports and all the supporting actors who will eventually go unnoticed – the film begins with some spectacle and noise. Suddenly some police officer hangs himself. Prithvi (Arjun Sarja) is appointed to “eradicate” betting in Indian sports. The stage is set for the ‘Thirudan-Police’ game. Venkat Prabhu brings in lorry loads of people, some 500 crores, guns that never run short of bullets and some scantily clad women to make up the rest of the film.
Ajit’s character is flimsy. He is a drunkard (also drives drunk), smokes like a chimney, sleeps with any woman (once with Premgi as well, if I dare say), cheats on his girlfriend, shoots people without mercy and suddenly post intermission acts like a psycho. Of course, there are moments of brilliance. But the film has no ‘stuff’ for Ajit to rein on! He can’t dance for nuts. He is rather unromantic. Does nothing extraordinary and carries a ‘thoppai’ that has a mind of its own.
Arjun (Sarja for the non-Tamils) comes on screen after ages. I can’t even remember what was his last film. Arjun gets a glaring introduction where he annoyingly blows his hair away at every turn. To give credit where it’s due, Arjun has done all he can to earn equal footing as Ajit in the film. He runs hard, shoots his gun (at a weird angle) often, sits in conference rooms and makes grand plans. He’s done a fair job of what’s in his control. If only he could manage to look a tad younger, I’d be showering praise for him.
There are three women (leads) in the film. Trisha looks pretty, gets cheated, cries a bit and disappears. So much for being Ajit’s pair in the film. Lakshmi Rai sleeps with Ajit. Then reappears post interval in swimwear only to make a fool of herself (getting called **************** before dying). Andrea, playing Arjun’s wife, come in exactly three scenes, looks hassled and makes no difference. Venkat Prabhu seems to have taken it upon himself to ensure ‘Mankatha’ is not mistaken to be a woman.
Vaibhav Reddy and Arvind Akash have done commendable jobs and look more handsome than Ajit (if I dare say). Premgi’s plays the role of an IIT gold medallist who can hack into an ATM with just an IP address. Rather ordinary and not in the least funny.
As we’d have expected, there is no story. What’s disappointing is that for a film running on robbery and sports betting, this is brainless to say the least. Ajit uses no brain to thieve the money from Chettiar. Instead, he rides on a bike and unscrews something under a lorry and leaves you feeling like a fool. At every turning point in the film (mind you there are many), someone dies, money disappears, gunshots happen and the story goes nowhere.
Mediocre dialogues. Apart from “comedy panna naan yenna santhaanama” and “vada Billa Gatesu”, there is not one dialogue that will become cult (like most dialogues in Venkat Prabhu’s previous films). A couple of foot tapping numbers and a decent re-recording, Yuvan Shakar Raja does no magic. Lyrics are either gross or incomprehensible.
There is too much hype around Ajit that is hardly substantiated. He keeps saying “I am king maker” and I wonder which king has he made. One small show of a Vijay song, one mention of Ilayaraja, Vinayak and Prithvi calling each other Thala and action king – some of the very many annoyances in the film.
In summary, Venkat Prabhu has completely lost the point. He should perhaps try and write the story first and cast later!