Hmmm... looks like the 'last movie curse' might be something real hovering over our actresses! After
a string of commercial and critical hits culminating with the wonderful Mozhi,
Jyothika seemed to have left Tamil cinema on a high. But the long-delayed Manikanda has arrived now,
making it, technically, her last release. While not as mind-numbingly bad as
Kicha Vayasu 16, Simran's swan song, it is a cliched and violent action
flick that gives Jyothika little to do.
Raja(Arjun) lives in Mumbai with his father(Chandrasekhar). Mahalakshmi(Jyothika) comes to Bombay
to get the blessings of a godwoman but since she is unable to meet Mataji immediately, she is forced
to stay in Mumbai for 10 days and rents a guestroom among the many run by Raja. Love blossoms between
Raja and Maha and when she returns to her village Maniyoor, he follows a few days later on her
invitation. After he lands there, he comes to know of his own link to the village.
The movie starts off in Mumbai but while the location may be different, the proceedings themselves
are distressingly familiar. We have a few fight sequences to boost Arjun's image and show us why he
has earned the 'Action King' sobriquet; we have an unimaginative romance between Arjun and Jyothika;
and we get a few scattered clues to indicate that Arjun's past hides a secret of some kind.
We've seen enough Sarathkumar and Vijayakanth movies to know that if the movie's name is different
from the hero's name, we will get a flashback that will introduce us to a character with the movie's
name. And that theory holds good here too. We get a flashback, following faithfully all the cliches of
similar flashbacks, that presents Manikanda. Unsurprisingly, he is an affectionate, strong, decent man
who is the savior for the rest of the villagers and this pits him against a power-hungry family. But
the violence at the end of the flashback is overdone and feels gratuitous.
Vadivelu has one of his funnier tracks here and is one of the saving graces of the film. A couple of his
sequences with Arjun and 1 very funny sequence with Jyothika when he goes to invite her to a feast,
where they stump him with their questions, bring back memories of his encounters with Parthiban in
films like Bharathi Kannamma where(there is even an in-joke about the track in
Giri, another Arjun film and one of his more popular tracks). His
separate track loses steam after a good start(where his conversation with a moneylender is misinterpreted
by his associates) but it also has a few nice laughs.
Arjun sleepwalks through his role, having done the same routine several times before. Jyothika looks
very pretty(the movie's supposed to have been in the making for 7 years but she definitely doesn't
look as young as she did 7 years ago) but has little to do apart from giving Arjun some company
in the duets. There are quite few bad guys but none of them particularly stand out. Pasupathy is
wasted in a small role.