Directed by K.S. Ravikumar the film follows a cruise ship vacation around Europe by noted actor Ambu alias Nisha (Trisha Krishnan) along with her childhood friend Deepa (Sangeetha) and Deepa’s kids to escape from the media and think about her relationship with her paranoid and suspicious freak Madanagopal (R. Madhavan). Major R. Mannar (Kamal Haasan) is the private investigator assigned by Madanagopal to follow and activities of Nisha and his baseless claim of her secretive meeting with her lover. All is well for the no nonsense comedy the team is known for but the mood shifts into utter blandness to a wasted attempt of emotional exchange.
As the film begins and slowly sets up its first act, I was neither interested nor bored which is a typical first act wherein we get to know the nature of the characters. Madanagopal played by Madhavan is an annoying and spoiled momma’s boy who comes successfully dislikable for the audience. Madhavan in his drunken antics was the only consoling buffoonery coming in the mix of the heavily influenced inspiration from Crazy Mohan’s write up. It does not though surprise me that Madhavan pulls it comfortably as he did in his debut venture in “Alaipayuthey” something similar in getting vested on the qualms of married life.
I viewed “Anbe Sivam” hours before entering the theatre for “Manmadan Ambu” and in that he plays Nallasivam as Nallasivam and not as Kamal playing the role. Not that he realistically embodies and makes every inch of it into a different nature of a person. He plays Sivam as a form of himself who has accepted the mishaps and misfortunes in his life and owns a philosophy of surviving through self deprecating jokes and helping people selflessly. There is a sincerity to the man he played out there with some minor smugness but in Major’s character the smugness completely takes over. He steers the story to delve in to the tragic past of his died wife and gets a close up shot to cry in his stereotypical controlled sadness.
The best part of the film is the song “Neela Vanam” shot with a care for telling a flashback not alone with a soothing melancholy song but with a video having every stamp of originality. After enjoying that momentary glimpse of excellence I was wondering the absence of that thought and effort put in that one song in translating it for the entire film.
Kamal’s Major does not shape up to be a man neither to be sympathized nor a hero we would like to root for. The expected spur of romance from Ambu towards Major is a twist unnecessary. While both of them are reasonably afraid to death in telling their secret, when the secret is out, it appears nothing mattered. If that is the point of their genesis of a romantic relationship, then it did not do that either. While Kamal’s some of the films have been mediocre, his acting has been the bedrock for the worst of the ventures but in “Manmadan Ambu” it is creaking of the man’s attitude in being hailed as the top actor in the field. That spills out and affects the nature of his delivery and failing to convince that it is indeed a sad lonely helpless friend Major.
Adding to this mix are supporting roles from Sangeetha, Ramesh Aravind and Urvashi trusting the actor and succumbing to a lost cause. While the initial parts of the film were at least leading to something, the film takes a sudden turn into nonstop attempt in comedy. The routine in providing comedy of errors and dialogue banters becomes an exercise. I lost track of the plan the crew of unusual people comes to the worst set up for the string of confusion and mix up. “Manmadan Ambu” which would have been a fairly meager attempt in drama becomes into an annoyance in the end ultimately making every character unreachable for admiring their emotions nor to make fun of their antics in a praising fashion.