Aashiq Abu's craftsmanship as a filmmaker makes Mayaanadhi a neatly narrated love story that has some of the most beautiful romantic moments Malayalam cinema has ever produced.
Despite the slow pace of the narrative, an intriguing plot unraveled through some brilliant performances, magnificent frames and magical music succeed in keeping the viewers stuck to the plot.
Tovino Thomas plays Mathen, a young man with a tragic past and a troublesome present, with utmost care and his chemistry with Aishwarya Lekshmi, who comes as Aparna, a struggling actress, makes Mayaanadhi a brilliant piece of on-screen romance.
Mathen is on the run after he gets involved in a crime – the murder of a policeman. In his bid to escape to an Arab nation with a small bundle of currency notes, he comes in search of his lady love from his college days – Aparna, a wannabe actress in Kochi struggling to enter filmdom. Some ruthless cops from Tamil Nadu are after Mathen, and their aim is to avenge the murder of their colleague, rather than bringing the culprit before the law.
The cops' chase and the couple's romantic rendezvouses build the rest of the narrative. Despite the convincing order of sequences, the plot leaves a predictable climax, though it doesn't actually affect the narrative.
Tovino does perform brilliantly as Mathen, who is undoubtedly one of the best characters he has played so far. Aishwarya as Aparna translates onto the screen the travails of a young woman, hailing from a troublesome family, in pursuit of her dreams. The intensity of the couple's love is portrayed so vividly that the film even has two spells of lip-lock, a rarity in Malayalam cinema.
The subplot involving actress Sameera (Leona Lishoy) and her conservative brother (Soubin Shahir) addresses issues of religious intolerance and freedom of women. But this sequence is likely to split critics and trigger a debate as to the portrayal of Muslims in popular cinema.
The film is a visual beauty and the credit goes to cinematographer Jayesh Mohan and editor Saiju Sreedharan. Rex Vijayan's music, both songs and background score, adds to the mood of the film.
The script penned by Shyam Pushkaran and Dileesh Nair pay attention to the subtleties and nuances of each sequence. The dialogues in the movie evoke occasional moments of laughter. However, one shouldn't be blamed for expecting more moments of entertainment from the duo, provided their proven track record.
Mayaanadhi flows slowly but with some intensity. It is likely to capture the imagination of those with a taste for cinema that moves beyond the notion of the pop culture. It is to be seen if the film can carry the crowds away.