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Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Maanaadu (2021) Tamil Movie Honest Review: Smartly-Written Film

Maanaadu (2021) Tamil Movie Honest  Review

Quick Glance

Director: Venkat Prabhu

Writers: Venkat Prabhu K. Chandru (additional dialogue) Ezhilarasu Gunasekaran(additional dialogue)

Stars: T.R. Silambarasan S.J. Suryah Kalyani Priyadarshan

IMBD Ratings: 9/10

Gener: Action Sci-Fi Adventure

Storyline & Review

 Hands down… one of the most entertaining movies of the year! Venkat Prabhu's MAANAADU is a Tamil language science fiction action thriller that he wrote and directed. It's a time loop thriller in the vein of GROUNDHOG DAY, EDGE OF TOMORROW, or PALM SPRINGS, in which our protagonist Abdul Khaaliq (Silambarasan) is forced to repeat the same day again and over. 

As far as I know, this was considered to be the very first Indian time loop movie and it probably would’ve been that but because of delays in the post-production and the ongoing pandemic, it was postponed, and then just six days earlier another Tamil movie was released and became the very first-time loop movie. 

But please let me know in the comments if there are really no other older examples. If you are familiar with this kind of high-concept story, living through the same day on repeat, you know about the many aspects that can be a lot of fun, but also about the elements that could be a problem. 

If such an idea isn’t handled cleverly enough, it can quickly become a drag to sit through constant repetitions of the same stuff or watch people too slowly come to terms with what’s really going on. 

But all things considered, MAANAADU is one of the best time loop movies I have seen and writer and director Venkat Prabhu have done a really good job playing to the strengths of that concept, while also doing something fresh and surprisingly meaningful – or at least something with an important message. 

The story is quite simple. Silambarasan plays Abdul Khaaliq, someone who just arrived at the airport, gets picked up by his friends, to attend a wedding. The wedding itself is not important at all though. Important is that he gets mixed up in an assassination plot to kill the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu who is talking at a conference, which is also what the title MAANAADU refers to. 

The murder should look like it was done by a Muslim terrorist, to then start communal riots, which should benefit the corrupt politicians and police. And whenever our protagonist Khaaliq dies, he wakes up at the airport again, and the day repeats. 

Fortunately, it doesn’t take too long until we get this whole time loop running, but I have to say, that you have to get through – or accept a few commercial elements on the way. Some of them I really didn’t mind that much. I even enjoyed them quite a bit. 

For example, these epic, slow-motion entrances of our hero, but also of our main villain. It doesn’t really make any sense in the world of the story itself, that our hero is treated as this big VIP at the beginning of the movie because then it turns out that he’s actually just a common man, which is great because that actually works much better for this story. 


Yet he has this big entrance, because of the star appeal of lead actor Silambarasan. It’s fine. It’s a commercial movie. When it comes to the mass entrance of the villain though, I really liked it. I liked it because we get it several times in different little variations. 

Because this is a time loop movie, the corrupt cop Dhanush Kodi, played by S.J. Suryah more than once enters the scenery “for the first time”, and we get this slow motion and over-the-top music theme several times. 

And through that repetition and epic nature of it, there’s certainly a strong comedic touch to it as well. The same goes for the only real song and dance sequence, which is happening very early on and doesn’t really add anything important to the movie. 

But because we have this time loop, we get a little reprise, which was fun. When it comes to some other commercial aspects, I would’ve preferred to not have them. Early on there are quite a lot of noisy sound effects to highlight the comedy and at one point, there’s this little animation of a light bulb, because our female supporting character Seetha Lakshmi, played by Kalyani Priyadarshan, has an idea. 

Something like this in a “normal” movie, let alone a thriller, is just kind of off-putting, especially when it’s only done once in the entire film. Or another example, unnecessarily playing the music from THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY just for this one little moment. 

Thankfully none of that really breaks the film, because it’s just too good for that and it should also be noted, that there’s no tacked-on love story either, so we can really focus on the thriller aspect. Which is really stellar. 

But before I talk about that, I want to get over my last real criticism. The technical aspects of the film somehow really vary. They can be great, especially the editing when the movie really picks up the pace, but oftentimes they are merely functional and every now and then also a bit off. 

I couldn’t find the movie’s budget, but I assume they had to face some restraints. Still, I think sometimes they compromise at the wrong ends, or maybe it’s just the common practice and I’m just not used to it as an outsider. 

But it was really off-putting how all the car scenes were done using a green screen background. It’s really noticeable and reminded me of old Hollywood movies that used rear projection for scenes in which the characters were driving. 

There’s also this emphasis on CGI explosions and bullet holes. Which I know, is just how things are done today, especially if you don’t have the biggest budget, but it’s still a little bit sad. 

Now with all of that being said, when MAANAADU works, it REALLY works and it’s so much fun. The way Venkat Prabhu is laying out this time loop concept is really effective. It’s a great choice to make the protagonist a common man, who’s as clueless as we as the audience are. 

He’s no superhero or mastermind, who understands everything that’s going on. Instead, he has to use the time loop to slowly figure out how he can save the day. It’s a progression. It’s trial and error. Learning from the mistakes and hopefully getting closer to beating the bad guys. 


My favorite scene in the film is a fantastic fight, that actually happens over several loops because Khaaliq is constantly dying and then improving. It’s like a video game, in which you have to learn the moves, know where the enemies are coming from and how to counter them perfectly. 

It’s edited so cleverly and the choreography is also pretty neat. As is Silambarasan, who finds a good balance between an everyday man and a bad-ass. I have to say that I think he would make a pretty nice Wolverine. 

But without question, the most fun performance definitely comes from S.J. Suryah as the villain Dhanush Kodi. He’s excellent and so delightfully over the top. He’s chewing the scenery every time he’s on-screen and he’s just one of those wonderfully comical bad guys. 

There’s also this great twist, or rather reveal at the halfway point that adds another dimension to the movie and turns it into a true cat and mouse game. And it’s also a pretty cool idea that in this story, the villain doesn’t want to kill the good guy, because that would only mean that the loop continues. 

Final Thoughts & Score

MAANAADU has many stretches in which it’s super gripping, exciting but also fun to see how things are unfolding. The pace can be exhilarating. But there are also some passages, that drag just a little bit and it could’ve been trimmed down a notch for sure. 

The last aspect I just briefly want to mention is that I really applaud the filmmaker’s intention to create an entertaining commercial thriller but also make it about Islamophobia and the intention of the powerful to scapegoat minorities. 

Our protagonist Abdul Khaaliq is a Muslim, but he also transcends his religion and is fighting against corruption, hatred and for peace and tranquility. As an NRI, a non-resident-Indian, he could also just leave and let things play out without him, but that would be wrong. 

He stays to do the right thing and that’s great. The movie is advertised as “A Venkat Prabhu Politics” and it’s also using the hashtag #spreadlove. Sure, it’s a bit corny and of course on the nose, but I think it’s important nonetheless, to address these very urgent topics. 

I give MAANAADU 8.5 out of 10. It’s more like 9 but I don’t do that. Alright, that’s it. Like always, comment below and let me know what you think about MAANAADU. And also: What is your favorite time loop movie?


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