Honestly, I did not believe someone would have thought of remaking Jolly LLB. It was a beautiful film (no doubt about it), but it’s a movie that sits hidden in plain sight and also with some obvious screenplay issues. So I was surprised when someone pointed out on Twitter that Manithan was indeed a remake of Jolly LLB (initially, I thought Manithan was a Korean movie copy)
For any movie lover, two questions will arise when such a movie is remade. Number One, how Udhayanidhi is going to carry the brilliance of Arshad Warsi? And Number Two, who will replace Saurabh Shukla as the Judge? It was granted that Prakash Raj is going to replace Boman Irani.
Manithan is a frame by frame remake of Jolly LLB so much so that they haven’t changed the name of the family that defends their son. It is convenient to frame a North Indian sounding name as the accused. However, the biggest difference between Jolly LLB and Manithan is the tone of the movie. Subhash Kapoor made the original movie with a satirical tone whereas Ahmed has treated Manithan in a more serious tone. It could have been an excellent deviation but the soul of Jolly LLB lies in that satire. The story is about a small town lawyer trying to make it in the big bad world of the state high court. He files a public litigation case against a hit and run case. Udhayanidhi’s characterisation in the remake is so unbelievable that only when his mother actually says that he has gone to Chennai to make it big, you actually understand that he was in another city. The suaveness of Hansika Motwani doesn’t help too as the original has a more rustic love story.
The treatment coupled with a stirring background score gives a darker shade to the movie. Udhayanidhi doesn’t match up to Arshad Warsi (not even a bit!!) and it was evident when he was cast in this character. He has limited set of expressions and when he can’t emote, he drops his head so that you cannot see his still face. Prakash Raj is a caricature and Aishwarya Rajesh makes you question why she takes up such inconsequential roles. Nonetheless, there is one character that you are going to love in Manithan, Radharavi as Judge Dhanapal. He is the only character who retains the soul of the original but gives a different interpretation to it with his trademark expressions. He showed why he is class apart and completely steals the show from other actors.
The problem with Manithan is it doesn’t have the soul in the right place and it is more a slipshod remake of the original. When a movie is faithfully remade, the mistakes of the original stay too. For instance, Jolly LLB never explains the transformation of the lawyer and its the same with Manithan. My nephew jokingly asked whether the character will change in a song and that’s what happened. The original screenplay had a lot of flaws but it was saved by the performances of lead actors. On the other hand, Manithan does not possess that strength. Manithan is not a bad movie because of the larger message but a little more work on the screenplay could have made it better. It is so obvious that the team didn’t want to do that. They wouldn’t have even discussed it. A hit movie doesn’t mean it’s flawless. A frame-by-frame remake is an easy job but it also shows the lethargy of the directoe. Is it too much to ask directors to take a little more care?
A 2/5 for Manithan – Watch it for Radharavi’s performance but you can also give a revisit to Jolly LLB
- Hope Udhayanidhi Stalin stays with his comedy movies and leave the good ones to other capable actors.
- Aswin Rao of Put Chutney (if you remember their Batman video) does another inconsequential role but wish he gets better roles in the big screen.