At a time when commercial clich's rule the roost and hero-driven stories are the order of the day in Tamil cinema, comes a film where the story holds the key and characters are woven around a script.
'Mannaru' is one such attempt by debutant filmmaker Jai Shankar.
The film which has Appukutty, who won the National award for best supporting actor for 'Azhagarsamiyin Kuthirai', playing the lead, is a daringly different attempt. Appukutty, a short, dark man with average looks impressed one and all with a brilliant performance in 'Azhagarsamiyin Kuthirai'.
Buoyed by the acclaim that he received for his earlier venture, he repeats the act in 'Mannaru'. It is the story of an innocent rural youth, who gets into troubles in his love life.
Jai Shankar had brought together on board two National awardees - Thambi Ramaiah and Appukutty. Thambi Ramaiah has played an important role besides penning the dialogues.
The film begins in Tiruchi where Anjali (Swathy) falls in love with a youngster at a time when her parents are planning to get her married to a local politician. The couple takes the help of Mannaru (Appukutty), a school drop-out. Mannaru is forced to leave Tiruchi with Anjali, as the politician manages to catch hold of Swathi's lover.
Mannaru goes to his native village in Kodaikanal. Fearing troubles, Anjali tells everyone in the village that she was in love with Mannaru and married him. This leads to a new set of troubles. The highlight is the innocent portrayal by Appukutty. He brings out right emotions and his looks compliment the role.
Thambi Ramaiah as a village head delivers a decent show, while Vaishali and Swathy get under the characters to give their best.
Agu Ajmal's cinematography is the movie's backbone. His lens captures the beauty of the rustic villages in hilly Kodaikanal and Theni well. Udhayan is a revelation, scoring some splendid tunes. And his background score adds pep to the proceedings.
The highlight is Jai Shankar's sincere attempt to stay away from the clich's. The film begins on a sweet note and proceeds the same way all through.