As an actor, he is infallible. As a screenplay writer, his trimming technique proves his acumen. As a singer, he has the potential to give professionals a run for their money. As a lyricist, he has the makings of a master. Not to forget the dialogue writer whose spontaneity and wit stun — for instance, just the words, “Why” and “Why Not” — but Kamal's admirable modulations and the shades of meaning they convey are a connoisseur's delight! But it is the story department that seems to play hide and seek with Kamal Haasan in Man Madan Ambu (U), with the result that the last 30 minutes is cacophony confounded!

The exceptions in the melee are the hilarious exchanges and the charged performances of the main players. Mohandas, to a great extent, and Manju Pillai to a lesser extent, also contribute to the fun. You have to hand it to Kamal, the actor. The veteran confidently relegates himself to the background in certain sequences and allows the others to take over and prove themselves. And they do — like Madhavan whose tizzy trip with his friends in the bar has you in stitches (though after a point his non-stop drunken stupor impacts little) and Sangeetha's foxed expression during her tele-con with Madhavan, with Kamal constantly instructing her, which makes you laugh your lungs out. Trisha is her usual chic self and it's refreshing to hear her speak her lines. The actor's subdued portrayal is a treat.

The novelty in the narration of the flashback as the segment unfolds sequentially in the reverse is another example of ingenuity. The melodic piece, ‘Neelavaanam …' is used to present the relevant montages here. And while on the subject, Devi Prasad's theme music, and the ‘Thagida Tha Thom' number that comes with Kamal's agile footwork, humour, and veracious lyric warrant mention. You don't find duets and solos included just for the sake of it — another example of Kamal's intelligent screenplay. And the imaginative sound design (Anand Krishnamurthy) lends a sleek Hollywood feel to the process.

Major Mannar (Kamal Haasan) takes up the assignment of trailing film actor Nisha or Ambujakshi (Trisha) all the way to Paris and later on a cruise, as he needs money to save his friend suffering from cancer. Madan (Madhavan), her lover, who suspects her of being unfaithful to him, is the one who wants her stalked. (That should explain the title as it did in Michael Madana Kama Rajan.) Madhavan joins Kamal once again after Anbae Sivam. As the spoilt son from a rich family, his dim-witted approach to problems is what MMA is all about.

Manushnandan's camera pans breathtaking canvases with an aesthetic eye. And it's a splendid visual experience on board Splendida! Shaan Mohammad's editing warrants compliments too.

But what is Oviya, the Kalavaani girl, doing in MMA — the purpose of that two-scene appearance beats you! The same goes for Usha Uthup. Surely the insignificant role doesn't demand a person of her stature! Ramesh Arvind, in the sober role of a terminally ill patient, is apt, and as always, Oorvasi comes up with a blemish-free show, while the kids Ashish and Puja, the former in particular, bowl you over.

Sprinkled with humour, joy, love, sadness and sentiment with an undercurrent of jealousy running through it, MMA is a cocktail of emotions — tasty, but at times queer!

Man Madan Ambu

Genre: Romance

Director: K. S. Ravikumar

Cast: Kamal Haasan, Madhavan, Trisha, Sangeetha

Storyline: Of a jealous lover, a detective he employs to follow his sweetheart

Bottomline: An interesting mix, with a downside too