The headline says it all. In 'Mankatha', Ajith pulls it off with his impeccable style and excellent performance, which is aptly supported by a racy script and brilliant execution by director Venkat Prabhu and his team.
If cricket was the USP of 'Chennai 28', the director's first film, 'Mankatha' is also based on the sport but with a difference. It is all about betting, money and the men behind it.
Ajith has appropriately chosen to do 'Mankatha' as his 50th film. It is a movie that has everything his fans would want. He shakes his legs vigorously, evokes laughter, does pulsating stunt sequences and utters catchy one-liners (with some of them going mute).
The first-half belongs to Venkat Prabhu where he shows sparks of 'Saroja' and 'Goa', while the latter part is totally dominated by Ajith. As a merciless baddie behind money, Ajith oozes venom in his eyes. His body language and dialogue delivery compliments it very much. Though the movie has over a dozen characters, it's Ajith all the way. With his remarkable screen presence, he is at his coolest best.
Coming to the story, 'Mankatha' revolves around a suspended cop Vinayak Mahadevan (Ajith) in Maharashtra police. He leads a happy life with his lover Sanjana (Trisha), daughter of an influential local goon Arumuga Chettiyar (Jayaprakash).
Vinayak is a man who dares to do anything for money. But a fun-loving person, he lives his life in his own way.
A suicide by a police officer investigating the betting mafia involved in Indian Premier League (IPL) hogs headlines. Assistant Commissioner of Police Prithvi (Arjun) takes charge to end betting scandal in the sport.
Meanwhile, Arumuga Chettiyar comes to know that a sum of Rs 500 crore betting money for the finals of the IPL is coming to Mumbai. He uses his nexus with underworld in Mumbai and tries to route it through his recreation centre.
Sumanth (Vaibhav) is Arumuga Chettiyar's protege. He hatches a conspiracy to take away the money in the company of a police officer Ganesh (Ashwin). They are joined by Mahanth (Mahanth), who runs a bar in Mumbai and Prem (Premgi Amaran), a fun-loving IIT pass out.
Coming to know of their plans, Vinayak steps in. He promises to help the team members and divide the booty between them. They even succeed in taking away the money and decide to wait for an appropriate time to share the fortune.
In the meantime, a shocked Arumuga Chettiyar begins his hunt for the treasure and every move of him is closely followed by Prithvi. All hell breaks loose from here.
Cheers to Ajith. The man after a long gap gets a role where he can perform with variety (Watch out for the scene where he demands Arjun to finish off Vaibhav). He is at his best and his salt and pepper look is catchy and attractive.
As a suave cop, a dreaded don or a adorable lover, he leaves his charm on screen. His uttering of one-liners to Arjun evokes applause. His imitating Premgi in few scenes brings the roof down in laughter.
Arjun lives up to his Action King tag. He adds variety on screen and is cool and consummate as a police officer.
Trisha appears in a few scenes besides a song and disappears. Andrea as Arjun's wife, Lakahmi Rai as call girl and Anjali in the role of Vaibhav's wife play blink-and-miss roles. Jayaprakash gets to play a decent part in the film. At places he reminds one of Kamal Haasan's role in 'Nayakan'. Vaibhav gets a meaty character and he utilises the opportunity.
Both Ganesh and Mahanth are tailor-made for the roles, while Premgi is at his best in the film. He takes off from where he left in 'Goa'. At ease in coming out with comical one-liners, his admiration for Ajith is visible on screen.
Watch out for good cinematography in such an action-packed film. Sakthi Saravanan has given a fresh colour to it. It's Yuvan Shankar Raja's mass tunes that elevates the mood. Accompanied by Karthik Raja, Bhavadharini and Premgi Amaran, he has shown difference in background score too (especially in the godown-fight scene in the second half)..
While editing by Praveen K L and N B Srikanth makes the film racy (doubly so in the second half), Vasuki Baskar's costumes fit well the 'Thala' and others. Stunts (courtesy Selva) are another highlight of 'Mankatha'
Give due credit to Venkat Prabhu, the director who seems to have given a film that sits well on Ajith. He understood Ajith's strength and played it well. Who said he can only direct laughathons? With 'Mankatha', he has graduated to go higher places.
On the whole, it's job well done by Venkat Prabhu, producer Dhayanidhi Alagiri and other members of the team.