When five stalwarts of Indian cinema work together, it’s definitely going to be a big show and then we have Prakash Raj playing a troika of roles — as a director, actor and producer — which justifies the expectations from comedy thriller Mana Oori Ramayanam.
The film sets off during Rama Navami where Bhujangayya (Prakash Raj), a businessman, accidentally meets a prostitute Shusheela (Priyamani). They get locked up in a room together and a bag with a movie script in it. The rest of the movie revolves around how an auto driver (Satya Dev) and a film director (Prudhviraj) struggle to save Prakash Raj’s reputation and the movie script respectively.
The movie boils down to showing the consequences from the missteps of drunkards. The script is well executed and is linear with a restricted narrative. The film stays raw and natural and brilliantly showcases a town during festive period. The four Ps make the core of the film: Prakash Raj, Prudhviraj, Priyamani and, of course, the plot.
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The nuances exhibited by Prakash as Bhujangayya as he has first peccadilo with a sex worker are exceptional. After wielding dialogue-heavy roles laced with rhetoric till date, Prakash has more of a silent part in the film. He brilliantly presents his almost muted mien in his characteristic journey of maintaining secrecy to save his reputation in the town. On the other hand, Priyamani gives us no reason to doubt her acting prowess as she delivers yet another powerful performance. She begins as a prostitute Shusheela who tries to compromise Bhujangayya’s prestige but eventually helps him out. She switches between a charming girl and a furious woman effortlessly.
Sathaya Dev as auto driver Siva is also a prime driver of the plot who plays more than just a supporting character. An innocent man as a sidekick to Bhujangayya, Siva effortlessly pulls through his role.
Prudhiviraj also forays into a new space by playing a serious role as director Garuda in the movie. He holds up the other half of the story and owns the movie by the time it ends.
The movie is a pure drama sans commercial elements such as songs, dance and comic characters and everything that glitters. The story is a gripping thriller with characters throwing hints of a substory which spreads the suspense and anxiety evenly till the climax.
And, of course, the maestro of music himself — Ilayaraja — brings the story to life with his melodious and accentuating background score and the finishing title track.