Maamannan would have been another election story but for the casting and their stellar performances that make the film stand out. It has a premise of caste politics and oppression well crafted into the story but could have done away with a few clichés
Maamannan is a political drama steeped in caste politics, and pegs on the young versus old order. Written by Mari Selvaraj and produced by Udhayanidhi Stalin, the politician, actor who also plays the lead in this film the film’s cast included Keerthy Suresh as this angry young lady and Fahadh Faasil –the actor who delivers the best in whatever role he plays as the ominous villain Ratnavel.
The young upper caste political heir, Ratnavel, like his father is dangerously oppressive to all those who he considers are below his stature. He is the head of his party in his region where there is a Dalit MLA – only because it is a reserved seat.
The title of the film however is after this MLA – Maamannan, who is chosen to be the MLA by Rathnavel’s father; and this in Maamannan’s own words – he always considered as a gracious opportunity and not his right until his son Athiveeran (Udhayanidhi Stalin) reminds him of it.
Vadivelu who is mostly seen in comedy roles and humourous scenes, does a total U turn and shines in his understated intense portrayal of a oppressed caste MLA – who does not sit until everyone around him sits – but in front of Ratnavel – he stands with his shoulder bent – totally submissive without questioning the lack of respect towards him.
And, it is again his son Veeran who reminds him of his right, and self-respect. This scene which has some action thrown into it – also has a beautiful moment – and the film has many such moments that elicit strong reactions.
He is brave, sensitive, irrational when he is angry and carries the pain of oppression. He loves his pigs and his father understands the value of staying true to the roots. Udhayanidhi fits the role as the angry and intense youngster who teaches his students martial arts and to stand for themselves, also continues to rear pigs, and takes pride is his family profession. He is convincing as Athiveeran. The girl he likes in college for her fierce ideals is Keerthy Suresh.
Director not only stands out for the choice of his cast but also the way he defines the characters and establishes them from the first scene – which is in itself an impactful start for the movie that sets the tone for the rest of the story. The women characters could have done with some attention though.
As the movie progresses you see Maamannan getting himself out of his conditioning and standing up for himself. Ratnavel gets out of the party in order to contest elections and make Maamannan lose. He is ready to do everything in his might to stop him from campaigning and winning. This part gets a little predictable – but the strength of the characters carries the film forward towards its graceful end.
Music by AR Rehman adds to the intensity of the film, especially the background score, and the title track. While Ninjame Ninjame tugs at your heart, what stays in your head is however, ‘Raasa Kannu’, which in Vadivelu’s voice is heart touching as is the intention.
Vadivelu – rightfully so is the hero of the political film – the Maamannan. The film is streaming on Netflix.