Mai; what does it signify? Well, the ink that is used to mark us as citizens who have cast their vote. So obviously, the movie has to be a political drama. Political dramas can always be interesting if executed right, because politics in itself can be such an intriguing and unpredictable game.
Mai talks about a party worker, quite low in the cadre, who wants to make it to the top, like everyone wants to. But, he is different in the sense that he is bold enough to ask for what he (thinks he) deserves. The powers that be think he is not yet ready and there starts the political game. The initial moral is that no one should be underestimated in the political game because voters can be unpredictable. And, then democracy is a funny place where the ‘king maker’ is sometimes more powerful than the king himself. But, power doesn’t rest easy, it creates problems and enemies.
The plot is of the kind that we have seen regularly, though not too often, over the years. Comparisons to Amaidhippadai will automatically flash across your mind. But those comparisons end with similarities in the plot. The execution is not even close enough to call for a favourable comparison. The most important thing in a political drama is the character sketch, which in the case of Mai is not convincing. And, a lot of the major events can be smelt a mile away because we have watched such movies before. So, none of the key turning points hit us as a surprise. There is also the point of plausibility. How often have we seen a normal person without too much clout win an election without a party’s backing? It might not be impossible, but the script must have strong enough reasons to show how and why the turnaround happened.
And, then comes the latter half. Now, the director has totally run out of ideas. Politics goes out of the window, it is replaced by vendetta. And, there is no political scheming or scamming or scandalizing here; the script just has people running around with weapons slashing at a lot of people. Here, the ‘so called’ political drama turns into another revenge drama. An interesting character in the form of a mentally disturbed person is the only half-silver lining you can spot.
The central character has been played quite well and Jayaprakash is intense as the political game changer. But, all the characterization is abandoned for mindless action in the second half. Music doesn’t play too big a part. Other technical aspects don’t attract any attention.
Mai is a film that has a potentially interesting story. But, having seen many such films, nothing about Mai surprises or delights us. And, a major loss of focus in the second hour mars things irrecoverably.
Verdict: This ink does not leave any lasting mark!