A little against the formula, a little filmy, loads of laughter, not a tear-jerker and most importantly the three men related to each other in real life aren’t portraying a family drama in reel life. That brings in a lot of eager suspense. The movie which everyone waited for is finally out and everyone waited to watch how it would be to see three generations of successful actors working together.
Vikram Kumar (director and script writer) should be credited for executing a complex story with perfection without confusing the audience. Manam is beautifully strewn with actors but their roles are so well defined that they make it an easy watch.
Manam begins with Bittoo’s birthday. He is six years old and his parents have surprises for him. The year is 1983 and the date, February 13. Cut the superstition and the surprise comes in when we learn that Naga Chaitanya (Radha Mohan) and Samantha (Krishnaveni) are Bittoo’s parents.
That’s the first clue to reveal that the movie has a different formula. While the mind is buzzing with ‘Why isn’t it Nagarjuna?’ we stay with the proceedings and witness Bittoo’s birthday celebrations.
The family is intact; the party is on and the boy makes a wish. ‘Please let my parents not quarrel anymore.’ As Bittoo plays with his friends, a quick flashback throws light on the boy’s wish.
On the face of it, though the parents are together and lead a normal family life, in reality the two are victims of misunderstanding despite being very much in love. The misunderstandings are not cleared and the two decide to part ways.
Years later, a grown up Bittoo (Nagarjuna) is shown accepting an award for the best businessman from the President of India. As the suspense ends with Nagarjuna’s (Nageswara Rao) entry, a few questions remain.
The movie introduces one surprise after the other and yet manages to keep the audience hooked.
Unfolding one story at a time, the first half has Chaitanya appearing in two different roles. The director deals with the idea of rebirth, while packing in a good amount of comedy.
The film has plenty of moments to cheer. Claps and whistles fill the theatre as Nageswara Rao tries to take a selfie. Nagarjuna’s comment on safety of women in India earns applause from women movie goers.
Even as Nageswara Rao believes that his parents have been reborn and goes in search of his mother, the director gives his viewers clues. A few coincidences occur throughout the movie. For instance, the clock tower becomes an important part of the story; as a meeting point for the characters. Akkineni Nageswara Rao's entry too happens here.
The background score (Anup Rubens) keeps viewers engaged to what’s unfolding on screen and the director makes sure each character is given their due. Nagarjuna is brilliant and so is Shriya Saran. Samantha as an excited Priya emotes well and easily shifts between the roles of a mother and a young college goer.
Comedy is not over the top and M.S. Narayana as the ‘Father’ of St. Xaviers College makes us really ‘Praise the lord’.
Legends need no mention. ANR, in his limited reel time, shows us how easy it is for an actor of his calibre to express varied emotions — like that of a child’s naughtiness, a brooding son and a strict grandfather. The chemistry between him and Naga Chaitanya gives rise to some of the best moments of the film.
Amitabh Bachchan appears in a cameo. Towards the end, Akhil Akkineni enters amidst a lot of cheer from the crowd.
This is a film you wouldn’t want to miss.
Genre: Family drama
Cast: Late Ankineni Nageshwar Rao, Nagarjuna, Naga Chairtania, Samantha, Shriya Saran
Plot: A lively tale of rebirths
Bottomline: The smile and laughter will not leave you while it still manage to moisten your eyes here and there