“Strictly No Rules” as the tag line says it, Mankatha is one unpredictable story with twists like an irregular swing of a pendulum. Ajith revels as a king maker continuing his tryst with action thrillers with an audacious screen presence and an enviable ease. This Indian “Italian Job” style drama is smart, witty and keeps you guessing. Venkat Prabhu’s gutsy attempt pays off with an edge of a seat screenplay keeping a spectator engrossed constantly.
The film encircling the betting mafia has characters trying to outsmart each other with their greed to earn quick money with little effort. Their attempts however collapse like a chicken waiting to be ripped apart. Prudvi(Arjun) leads a special squad assigned to unearth people behind the illegal dealings. Vinayak is a 40+ suspended police officer , fearless in his methods. He has a girlfriend Sanjana(Trisha) whose father Arumugam holds a position of influence in Mumbai. A team of four plan to rob a sum of 500 crores from the former. Vinayak makes an astounding entry into the troop. The film then unravels the true intentions behind the characters backed by the cat and mouse chases wherein each of them attempts to flee with the money.
The biggest challenge of a fast paced thriller is to sustain momentum and remain mysterious which Mankatha does in equal amounts leaving out a few amateurishly directed sequences. One needs to appreciate the directorial vision in the pre-interval scene where Ajith idealizes his plan for the escape. The chases are supremely designed and the so called filmi clichés are well handled. The first half drags initially but the director packs a sucker punch in the latter part which obviously aids the film.
The performances are not as memorable as one would have expected. Trisha for instance appears in a listless role that could have so easily been labeled as a special appearance. Laxmi Rai has more screen space than Trisha, but not even half the charm of the former. Another set of ladies don’t get their due too, this time Anjali and Andrea. The character of the IIT’ian hacker though not completely original, is well portrayed. The other trio is passable. Ajith is sparkling. His charisma is such that you are left bewildered by the bluntness with which he says “This is my f**king game”. Arjun marks a surprise comeback and is extremely convincing as a tough officer. The other characters don’t deserve much of a mention.
This, being Venkat Prabhu’s magnum opus doesn’t have the emotional base of his earlier works as he centers the film around a single character who hogs the limelight. Technically though, the film is sound backed by some neat camera work. The picturisation of the song with Ajith and Trisha is extremely well conceived. The dialogues just about fit the bill. The background score is unique. The songs are pretty much a disappointment.
The basic aspects that go in favour of the film are its theme, action stunts and Ajith. This is not a ‘classic’ by any stretch of imagination but has enough elements that can surprise audiences. This is no rocket science. Go watch the kingmaker turn the tides!!Velayadu Mankatha!