Meyaadha Maan

Meyaadha Maan

Royapurathu La La Land” is what the makers claimed this film to be. I was skeptical. Is this just an attention-grabbing term hurled at us or does it refer to the story of the film? But the film surprised me. Musically, it might be that. But with the understanding of love, it shares a lot in common with the yesteryear musical. Love isn’t kind, both these films are aware of this. La La Land literally demonstrated the same with the fate of its characters, while Meyaadha Maan only suggests it with a dialogue. Interestingly, “Madhu”, the Bench Talkies short this film is based on, has a different ending, one that is much closer to La La Land. Why this leap of destiny for the characters I don’t know (I am guessing commercial value), but this expansion is as textured as that short version. It has a handful of raw moments that I am not forgetting any time soon.

This is an endearing film. Never does it get corny with its portrayal of love. This guy has loved (stalked?) her for three long years. He knows her intricacies like no one. I didn’t find this creepy. Probably because he is so honest about it. He has his own morals in place. Also, none of the actors go overboard. It just feels measured. All the soup-boy-ness in the film is well balanced. They don’t go overboard with his hurting. They don’t glorify heartbreak. It is much lighter than the short.

There are a couple of surprises at places you’ll expect a payoff, but they pull a rabbit (deer in this case?) out of the hat. Take the scene where Vinoth and Sudar embrace. The next scene starts with a marriage function on a first-floor terrace in their area. This is of course, on first guess, their marriage, months later. But no. The camera pans down only to reveal that there has been no time leap, and that it’s still the same day with Murali strutting at his doorstep waiting for Sudar’s call. The film is filled with such minute subversions. We see the father repairing the gramophone when he enters her place. Later on we get a scene where he fixes it effortlessly. It is easy to expect the father to have an “I am impressed” moment, but what we actually get is another hilarious hiccup from Murali. This is just a bit out of a scene, that on the whole, promises to be extremely dramatic, but stays too real. The way Sudar initially wants her crush to act on his own and not after her brother telling him, is genuine. I mean this is not cinematic at all. There’s no exaggeration. It is reflects very well on our world. Vinoth is the best friend of a hopeless romantic called Idhayam Murali, yet he doesn’t know how to react to “love”. Nothing has kindled that kind of response in him. He can be considered a mechanic in this emotion, as much as he is one by profession. Vivek Prasanna portrays this with so much care. So does Indhuja who plays Sudarvizhi. These are performances that seem like the actors are aware of every beat they are emoting, and it is refreshing to see her and Priya Bhavani Shankar announce their arrival with this particular film. It is as grounded as one can get for building a portfolio of acting.

Throughout the first half, we see the characters in a setting, living amongst people. It is solidly rooted in its world. But this atmosphere is lost in a couple of places, like the yoga comedy, where our characters are reduced to mere caricatures among fellow humans. This portion, and Madhu’s Appa (a very clichéd archetype) pull the weight of the film down for me. So does the argument involving sex and a mother’s death anniversary. He calls her desperate, she gets angry. He slaps her. And there’s conflict. Had he told her about the death anniversary, none of this would have happened. It feels like he held onto it, and said misogynist things just so that an argument can progress the screenplay. For a film that is being genuine about everything, this lazy cinematic liberty feels out of place. The ending too, though makes sense structure-wise (mirrors how the film starts, with him on the terrace), appears contrived for how it conveniently spurs an argument. The film is undeserving of such slipups.

The music by Santhosh Narayanan and Pradeep Kumar didn’t really interest me as an album. But seeing the songs load along with the story and characters is totally charming. The makers know their music. Be it covers of old songs or for metaphors, this film uses music for meaning and punch. In a time where every other film is called “An xyz musical” (just because it has four or more songs in it), completely dumbing down what the genre actually stands for, Meyaadha Maan justifies it in its own, Tamil way. I find it interesting how the makers use the seemingly unnecessary Tasmac song to assert that they are being politically correct.

While the film has its own shares of problems, I’ll remember it for everything that it does right. We have another exciting debutante filmmaker on the scene. And the two good actresses as well. Here’s wishing they are used for more meaningful cinema.


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