Manu Review: A revenge thriller
Manu, a thriller, is full of abstract ideas and surrealistic moments but is absurd and boring
Friday 7 September 2018
Raja Goutham, Chandini Chowdary, Aberaam Varma, Mohan Bhagath, Bomma Sridhar, Bindu Chandramouli
The story begins in an imaginary island called Sia with protagonist Manu as the narrator - the island is sparsely populated, and is inhabited by sailors and dacoits. Manu, an artiste whose abstract paintings have deeper meaning, has a dark past (mother eloped with someone, father is dead) and is now catching rats for a purpose. He explains all these in a voice-over. Before this episode, two more sequences happen. Manu and his admirer Neela are at a bar counter, Neela tells him how she liked his paintings but suddenly she slaps him when he touches her back. She thinks that he misunderstood her admiration towards his work as a sign for desiring him. Cut to another sequence: Manu beats three guys who try to steal a diamond from the old man who is having drinks quietly in the same bar. What are these three different scenes or episodes about? These three moments are explained later in this non-linear structured thriller that is full of abstract ideas.
When we deconstruct the non-linear story it follows like this...
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The protagonist Manu (played by Raja Gautam, son of comedian Brahmanandam) is an artiste. He has an admirer Neela (Chandini Chowdhary) who likes poetry, bhavukatha and sends him surprise gifts and asks him to find who she is. She never reveals her face to him. Neela's father who fears Amar, Akbar and Anthony are after him for a diamond he possesses plans to leave this place and tells his daughter to rent their house to someone. Manu who sees a flyer for 'To-Let' comes to her house but she's in danger. Will he save her?
Manu in one word is a thriller with a revenge theme. However, the director has tried to tell it in a different manner with artistic imagery, and has structured film in a non-linear fashion. Each scene is filmed in slow-motion manner; the film with three-hour run time tests the patience. The first half of the movie really does have weird moments, abstract scenes and staccato moments. They start making sense in the second half when the film gets to the basic point of love story between these two Manu and Neela. The hide-and-seek love story though is in the style of Yandamoori Veerendranath's famous novel Vennela Aadapilla - this is the best part of this movie.
The moment the love story ends, it comes to back to the abstract. And the climax is bizarre and defies the logic entirely.
The film has six or seven characters in the entire movie. Raja Gautam is good in the role of an artiste and probably this is his first movie where he actually has given a believable performance.
Chandini Chowdhary as Neela is good. Neela's father and the guys who played Amar, Akbar and Anthony and another character are just okay.
The film entirely belongs to the technicians. Their work dominates throughout. The visual palette reminds us of European movies. The slow-motion shots seem to be inspired by Wang-Kar Wai movies. The sound design is excellent, and is of superior quality. Editing is bad, as it is replete with overindulgent shots (Has runtime of nearly 3 hours).
Background music is at times good but the same tune is repeated in a loop in many scenes.
The new director Phanindra Narsetti who made some short films has style but his high-funda ideas lack coherence and doesn't make sense mostly. In one scene he explains who Manu is (as per Hinduism, Manu is the first human) which hardly connects with the basic theme of the movie that talks about mortality, love, and karma rather superficially.
Manu, a thriller, is full of abstract ideas and surrealistic moments. It definitely has style and good technical values but it also is absurd and is boring.
Manu review: 1.75 stars