Ambujakshi alias Nisha (Trisha) is the numero uno heroine in Tamil cinema. She is in love with Madanagopal (Madhavan), a rich tycoon who is basically a Mama’s (Usha Uthup) boy. Madanagopal and his mom visit Ambu on the sets of a song picturisation in Kodaikanal with top hero Suriya (playing a cameo), and he suspects that she is two- timing him. This leads to an accident as Ambu on the driver’s seat of Madan’s new Hummer, almost bangs into a another car coming from the opposite side.
The couple has a bitter fight and an emotionally disturbed Nisha calls Madan a ‘Sandeha Prani’ (suspicious guy) and part. To take off from pressures of work and personal worries Ambu decides to go on a European cruise with childhood friend Deepa (Sangeetha) who is a divorcee with two kids. Meanwhile Madan who is still madly in love with Ambu arranges a private detective Major Mannar (Kamal Haasan) to keep an eye on her and give him a regular update on whom she meets during her holiday. All this leads to a hilarious situation, with a dramatic twist in the climax.
Kamal Haasan script scores big time, as the film works due to characterization and commercial packaging done in a different style by KS Ravikumar. From scene one, you are drawn into each characters life, and when you put them all together on a cruise it crackles with human emotions and entertainment.
Remarkable casting has resulted in some fine performances by all players. The film boasts the best performance you will see by an ensemble cast in a long time, and that includes even the bit players Each and every character including the two small kids are perfect.
Trisha’s character as movie star Nisha sans make up is the pivot around which the film revolves. Be it her discomfort on the sets when her lover drops in, or her outburst over the phone, she is superb. She sprinkles her lines with confidence and emerges as one of the film's most lovable characters.
Armed with the film’s best-written role as Madanagopal, Madhavan is the scene stealer. His drunken scenes which brings out his hidden fears and suspicion is superb. Sangeetha as Deepa the divorcee who says “the matrimony was bad but the alimony was good” nails the practical woman of today who is frank and honest about her life.
Malayalam actors Kunjan and Manju Pillai as the wannabe producers after Nisha’s dates and Urvashi as the hapless wife who is fighting a lone battle by the side of her husband in the hospital are fantastic.
And finally the name is Kamal Haasan. Watch him meld effortlessly from casual to utter seriousness. His compelling, effortless portrayal of Major Mannar is the highlight. The star makes an appearance 22 minutes after the start and adds those little touches that make all the difference especially the scenes in which he speaks to Urvashi over the phone, and when he talks about his French wife who met with a sad end.
Technically the film is top class. Two new boys- cinematographer Manush Nandan and editor Shan Mohammed make a big impression. Manush camerawork give it a fresh tangy look, while editing is crisp. The film moves at a rapid pace with never a dull moment in the 2 hour 32 minutes running time.
Sync sound has been used, which has enhanced not only the narration but also gives it a real feel as though you were there on the ship with the characters. Devi Prasad’s music especially Neela Vaanam... told in a rewind manner, is innovative. The picturisation of Thagudu Thagudu.. comes at the right time and is different.
Constructed from a terrific script that’s strong on plot and packed with crackling dialogue, Manmadhan Ambu is consistently engaging. Cleverly written and sharply cast, it is a film that delivers hearty laughs. Don’t miss it. It is one of those rare Tamil films that’s funny and smart at the same time!
What ever else you do this weekend, don't miss this film.