If you have always wondered how Photoshop worked and looked dreamily at the big plastic flexes on the road, then Manoharam might just be the two-hour long tutorial you need. The film takes you through everything from Photoshop classes to setting up a printing unit and finally tips you off on the need to switch to cloth and be environment friendly! But somewhere along the way it also tries to tell the story of a struggling artist called Manu – played very aptly by Vineeth Sreenivasan.
The movie, directed by Anvar Sadik, starts with Manu growing up with an inferiority complex but then appears to change tack and delves into the technicalities of running a printing unit. It does fall into the ‘feel-good’ genre of movies, but goes through a very rocky path, losing the viewer at many places.
Vineeth’s character would be a stereotype for him – the talented, struggling, low-income man with a few close friends on his side (Basil, Indrans). As a boy he hides his old painting box when he sees the new fashionable tools other kids bring at a contest. But he is talented and his friend (Basil) tells him that he will grow into a great artist. But grownup Manu becomes a painter of banners, whom his bride-to-be dumps on the eve of their wedding.
The shots introducing Manu and his mates and the inanimate objects jump through attractive frames (cinematography by Jebin Jacob) – a technique followed throughout the movie. But then the cuts from one scene to another seem jerky without order or method. This way the comedy misses out, the timing is off and the talented cast appear wasted.
The heroine – Aparna Das – is introduced as the new teacher at a computer centre where Manu goes to learn Photoshop. Aparna is relatively new, apart from a small role she played in Njan Prakashan, but delivers the regular-struggling-youngster role pretty well. Her voice – presumably not a dubbing artist’s – is novel, the lines spoken without drama. Her character Sreeja wears the typical salwars and long shawls that young working women wear in a small town, has clear priorities about needing a job, doesn’t show a lot of emotion and in all appears as a very real person.
Not that Manu or his friends do not. But they go through the more cinematic experiences of tense situations, keeping up pretences, last-minute solutions and so on. Vineeth’s performance in the tense scenes is realistic. Only, the way it is written, the situations do not evoke a lot of empathy. And the predictable climax leaves you a little tired.
There are, however, enjoyable moments in the film – the newly forming romance, the mother-son exchange. Sree Lakshmy is pretty underutilised as the mother, but in the moment that she gets to speak the scene transforms from ordinary to beautiful.
Basil and Indrans and Tamil actor Delhi Ganesh play their parts neatly. There are songs by Sanjeev Thomas that you take note of, to play later on.