Mayaavi has its moments of humour and the odd heartwarming sequence as well but is finally unable to sustain itself as it runs out of steam by the end. An over the top performance by Jyotika as herself showing an embarrassing lack of comic timing doesn’t help either. If at all the film is watchable, it’s undoubtedly due to Suriya’s energetic and immensely likeable act that lifts it several notches. Take him away and the film would collapse.
The problem with the film is its premise itself. Mayaavi, produced by Bala and directed by his assistant Singampuli, has its germs from a small sequence from Bala’s earlier Pithamagan(2003) where Sakthi (Suriya) kidnaps actress Simran and now it attempts an entire feature film around this premise of a tapori conman with a heart of gold kidnapping a famous actress. As it is, the kidnapping sequence was the weakest aspect of Pithamagan and to be honest, isn’t enough material for a full length Tamil commercial feature film as is clearly evident in Mayaavi.
Balaiah (Suriya) is a glib, smooth talking tourist guide in Mahabalipuram. He and his associate Sathyaraj (Sathyan) also indulge in petty, small-time crimes and generally have a good time in life. An elderly goldsmith and his wife bail out the two whenever they get into trouble knowing both are essentially good-at-heart people. One day while breaking into a bungalow to steal, they discover it is actress Jyotika’s (Jyotika) bungalow. They are caught and sent to jail but released on bail. Subsequently, Balaiah and Jyotika have more run-ins with each other and finally her slimy manager, in cahoots with a corrupt Police Inspector, gets Balaiah arrested on charges of misbehaving with the actress. Coming out after 3 months and blaming Jyotika for his time in prison, Balaiah kidnaps Jyotika to teach her a lesson and what’s more hides her in the same Police Inspector’s otherwise unused flat. Gradually, Jyotika realizes that Balaiah is a kind-hearted and good man who lives for others while he too starts falling for her even though their worlds are poles apart…
Mayaavi is the umpteenth time you see a kidnap drama where the victim begins to understand her kidnapper and fall for him and he for her so it was all the more important that the script was able to give a new and fresh take on its material but sadly that is absent here. In fact, the film kind of stalls not really knowing where to go once the kidnapping takes place and sentiment sets in and it limps towards a desperate, desperate effort at a heart-tugging and bittersweet ending straight out of Roman Holiday. The sentimental scenes like those regarding the spastic woman, though having their moments, are forced and hammered into the story to obviously manipulate one’s emotions. However, it has to be said that there is an undeniable chemistry between Jyotika and Suriya that is clearly visible on screen.
To be fair, the film is quite engaging till the kidnapping takes place. It has an energy and some of the comic scenes are really quite funny with Suriya’s character dropping some genuinely witty punch lines along the way. Although, here I have to say I had to go along with the sub-titles on the DVD and they were funny enough so I’m presuming the real McCoy is as funny if not more! There is a great dialogue when Balaiah comments on Jyotika’s overacting telling her that the general consensus on her acting is that she always acts more than she is paid for! Also, the sequence where Balaiah realizes they are in Jyotika’s house and his subsequent elation (just see the glint in his eyes and excitement on his face) and dance to her Khushi number works really well.
Of course, being a hardcore commercial film there are loopholes galore with little thought given to logic. For instance, there is a complaint of a TV set being on and heard in the locked SI’s flat but none whenever the lights are switched on in the night. Balaiah, Sathyaraj and Jyotika go in and out of the society into the flat without any problem whatsoever. And of course, Balaiah conveniently forgets his foot injury and limp in the final fight sequence as he punches and kicks out at the baddies with aplomb.
Suriya is undoubtedly the life of the film as he yet again shows what an effortless and versatile performer he is. He unabashedly plays to the gallery and displays brilliant comic timing and energy and is spot on in the more sentimental and emotional scenes as well, showing a sensitive vulnerability beneath his tough and funny tapori exterior. One could complain that the role is almost like an extention of his act in Pithamagan as even here he is a similar type of petty good-hearted conman who gets extremely emotional when drunk but one cannot deny that he carries every scene through according to its requirement. If at all, there is a genuine emotional moment at the end of the film, it is due to him and him alone. Just see the hurt on his face once the kidnapping saga is over and he knows that Jyotika and he would go their own separate ways. He is, to put it simply, brilliant and rises way above the film.
The kindest thing you can say about Jyotika is that she was sporting enough to do this role lampooning herself. Not only does she play a spoilt star who turns her nose up at other actresses (Simran, Meena) but allows the script to make fun of her as well. But that’s about it. Otherwise, she is totally off in her comic timing and is, in fact, embarrassing at times. Thankfully, she’s somewhat better in the more emotional scenes and is comparitively reined-in the last sequence of the film.
Of the supporting cast, Sathyan is fine while the rest are adequate enough.
Techncially, Rathnavelu’s polished camerawork is a definite asset and Devi Sri Prasad’s music goes along with the grain of the film without being spectacular. It’s easy to say the second half needed trimming but an editor can only work with the material he has been given so one cannot really blame Suresh Urs if the film drags on in the second half.
All in all, the film is mainly watchable for Suriya’s rising-above-the-script act. But in totality as a film, it is very, very average at best and no more.
Tamil, Comedy, Drama, Color