December 11, 2010 Y. Sunita Chowdary
Manasara is a love story between an unconventional-looking Telugu man and a pretty Malayali woman born in a family that practices Kalari. While the focus on romance is less, there is such an overdose of violence and martial art that people find this narration unpalatable.
The film doesn't take much time to develop the one dimensional characters but as the romance unfolds slowly, the audience screams for substance, for more brain than brawn and it ends finally as another clichéd love story. Right from the posters to the climax of the film, one ends up hunting for something endearing and what is dished out is hostile behaviour, relationships, looks and in the face lurid punches and the sounds of crackling bones.
Most of the movie-going audience want escapist cinema that is pleasing to the eye, and commercially appealing persona. The director tends to justify his story by making the hero indulge in a self deprecatory act, a song that says it's okay if you aren't good-looking, you are the kind of person I'm looking for. The leading lady grows up craving for love and one gesture of kindness makes her fall for the man who knows how to battle for love but not battle out with swords.
Newcomer Vikram may be suitable to the story but he is frigid in his work, he fails to show the expressions of a man who is angry and hurt with good reason. Sri Divya expertly portrays an abused girl who is constantly being slapped by her family and still shows her will and wait to embrace happiness. Her anxiety driven performance aids mood of the film. Bhanuchander shows virtuosity.
The story is not in tune with times, the hero instead of evoking sympathy, draws indifference in the final scene. The brown and green visuals flawlessly mirrors the settings and circumstances of the martial art fighters. In this Malayali drama that revolves completely around physical fights, there is a dialogue that takes a dig at the high emotions in Andhra families. The setting is authentic, locations contained, humour insane. Manasara is not a drama that stands alongside the rest of Ravi Babu's oeuvre.