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‘Manmatha Leelai’ movie review: There is nothing for adults in this Venkat Prabhu quickie

A still from ‘Manmatha Leelai’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Two similarly constructed incidents run parallel at two different timelines in Venkat Prabhu’s Manmatha Leelai. Both involve Sathya (Ashok Selvan) stepping out of his boundary to get physical with two women, Poorani (Samyuktha Hegde) and Leela (Riya Suman). They are intercut to show the similar nature of the scenes, but this spoon feeding gets tiring after a point. 

The first half is entirely built on these two parallel tracks, stretched to a point beyond redemption. What is outstanding about the core idea of Manmatha Leelai, a film which claims to be an ‘adult comedy’, is the lack of an idea (story is by Manivannan Balasubramaniam). What is adult or comedy about these individual events is left to our imagination. Do let us know in the comments section.

The common thread you encounter is adultery. There are two kinds of extramarital affairs in Manmatha Leelai; one you foresee and the other hits you in the face — definitely not in a manner you would imagine. The second one though might sound outrageously funny, indulges in the blame game, deriving jokes at the expense of a woman, of course. 

In the first storyline, which takes place in 2010, Sathya appears to be dating Poorani via Orkut. They haven’t met in the real world. Poorani is that paavam girl we have to sympathise with. She is dressed as a typical Tamil woman getting ready for her mudhal iravu (first night) when Sathya meets her. But she somehow transforms into a model for a condom ad in the same scene. 

Leela’s role is even better. She looks like she ran out of Splitsvilla even before she gave a shot. By some miracle, she lands up at Sathya’s doorstep on a rainy evening. Both these women serve the purpose to titillate the audience more than Sathya. Except for a few scenes, thankfully, the film doesn’t objectify them to a disturbing proportion, like in Santhosh P Jayakumar’s films.  There is a third woman, Anu (Smruthi Venkat), the classic nagging wife of Sathya. 

These are, of course, not a problem, given that ‘adult comedy’, historically speaking, has only been catering to the male crowd. There is very little here for women to enjoy. That said, wait for the last half hour to kick in. We shall see if you recover from it.

Sensitivity is the least you would expect in an adult comedy. I, sure, wasn’t. But the manner in which adultery is dealt with, to make it presentable and cool, raises concern about whether it was made for self-respecting adults or a gullible ‘youth’ crowd. 

If anything, it shows that for two consulting adults to have sex, even if it were in an affair gone wrong, you need to show alcohol as an excuse to accentuate their intimacy. Sex, without alcohol, is deemed sinful apparently. Manmatha Leelai also illustrates that a mere ‘quickie’ just does not work if both parties involved rush through the process, not letting things develop organically.

This film was initially planned for a streaming platform, which has become a dump yard for such lacklustre efforts. Manmatha Leelai is that film you wouldn’t bother checking out, even if the streaming platform’s algorithm throws it at you.


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Printable version | Apr 25, 2022 2:58:54 am | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/reviews/manmatha-leelai-movie-review/article65284147.ece