Maamanithan movie review: Vijay Sethupathi shines in Seenu Ramasamy’s meditation on life
In Maamanithan, meaning the great human, Radha Krishnan (Vijay Sethupathi) is a very honest man. He is emotionally well-sorted and lives a contented life with the income he earns driving a rental auto rickshaw. He has loyal friends and everyone in the city of Pannaipuram seems to hold him in high regard.
Krishnan’s life seems almost perfect. It has everything a man could ask for to live a happy life. A faithful wife Gayathrie (Ambalika) and two healthy children. A spacious detached house with a private well and garden. His profession as a rickshaw driver seems to bring him enough money to maintain and protect what he already owns. He is probably living his dream. At least, that’s the dream of millions of middle-class Indians. But, at some point, he doesn’t count his blessings. And his life falls apart.
To put it like Denzel Washington, “In your highest moments, watch out, that’s when the devil comes for you!”
Krishnan becomes a slave to his wishes and he begins to yearn for things he does not have. In other words, it becomes greedy. He finds himself in the middle of a real estate boom, and he seizes the opportunity. He makes a deal with a seller to help him sell all the plots by leveraging the goodwill he has with the local people. In return, he asks for a share of the total profits. The salesman accepts and Krishnan swaps his khaki uniform for a dhoti and a white cotton shirt, marking the change of profession. He looks like a politician. The suit somehow foreshadows the possibility of Krishnan lying and deceiving in order for sales to happen.
Krishnan changed his profession to real estate because he wanted to provide an expensive education for his children. This is his excuse to start desiring quick money, but everything he does after that is just for himself. He soils his hand and damages his own conscience with corruption. The malice has now taken full control of Krishnan. And it seems to be almost unrecoverable.
Is Maamanithan an anti-materialist film, which asks its audience not to have ambitions or to get rich? That would be a very superficial reading of this film. Seenu Ramasamy, who also wrote the film, seems to want his audience to understand the importance of nurturing and protecting their spirituality. The film seems to assert that providence would do everything possible to protect the good. And it will subject people to grueling punishments to cleanse them of the residue of their intrusions.
Vijay Sethupathi fits perfectly into the role of a man trying to solve the mysteries of life through repentance. Supporting actors Guru Somasundaram Gayathrie and Jewel Mary bring a lot of realism to the film through their performance.
Maamanithan is Seenu Ramasamy’s meditation on life. And according to him, the man who knows how to be content to live with less is great.