Simplistic and sincere, Manja Pai has an old-fashioned plot and characters. It's got its heart in the right place, but sometimes that's not enough entertainment for today’s audience.
The film starts by establishing shots of a close bond between a grandfather (Raj Kiran) who raises his grandson Tamil (Vemal) single handedly in a village and cut to 25 years later the boy is working in an IT company, Chennai staying in an upmarket posh apartment. Tamil meets Karthika( Lakshmi Menon) a medical student at a traffic signal and it is love-at-first-sight for him. He follows her and in no time she reciprocates.
Tamil is now selected to go to US in three months and he brings his thatha (granddad) to the city to spend quality time before he leaves. The rest of the film is how the old man with a heart of gold creates havoc and nuisance in the life of Tamil, residents of the residential apartment and even in the American consulate! But all his good intentions get noticed in the end.
The film is too formulaic to make a hard-hitting statement that people in villages are naive, helpful and their love unconditional. But does all this apply to people of this generation or even the so-called villages? A man who doesn’t know the difference between a lap top and a bread toaster or one who takes a bath and washes clothes in a fountain is hard to digest! And why should he go and protest in front of US consulate as they have an American flag?
Well, it may not appeal to everyone but because it's well-intentioned and settles for a hopeful message, you stay with the film despite the fact that it's never quite compelling.
Of the cast Raj Kiran who seem to exist in a world far away from the one many of us occupy is apt and he plunges sincerely into the central role. Vemel is adequate while Lakshmi Menon has very little to do in a stereotypical part.
Verdict: Old fashioned