Agent Kannayiram Movie Review: Santhanam’s detective drama is another misfire from Manoj Beedha

Director Manoj Beedha’s debut Vanjagar Ulagam and his sophomore Agent Kannayiram may be different films, but they share an unfortunate resemblance. Both films have a good central plot that never comes to fruition due to the chaotic writing and unconvincing execution. While the former is a gangster drama, the latest film is an origin story of sorts about an inexperienced detective with average aptitude for the job.

Santhanam plays agent Kannayiram; born out of wedlock, he had a bad childhood. While his mother loves him, his father leaves her as he already has a family. Kannayira and his mother eventually become servants to his father’s family. When his mother refuses to defend him for fear of abandonment, he distances himself from her. When his mother dies, he does not make it back to his home village in time. Unable to see his mother one last time, Kannayiram is wracked with guilt and nightmares. He is then drawn to a mysterious case in the village when unknown bodies land next to the train tracks. When Kannayiram solves the case, he also gets a deal with his mother. Basically it sounds good, but the film gets lost in the translation from the words to the screen.

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The ideas may have formed well in Manoj’s head, but he fails to translate them for the screens. Go ahead, it looks like the ideas didn’t even make it to the newspaper as the writing is extremely disappointing. The scenes feel random and incoherent. Additionally, a lot of the dialogue looks like afterthoughts that were added during dubbing because you don’t see the actors mouthing it.

The focus is on the film’s aesthetic and style, which looks and feels pretentious. Kannayiram lives in an abandoned mobile home like those found in American thrillers. His father gives his mother a gun, a relic of the family, instead of money for her survival. It’s all too Hollywoody and wannabe. But that also seems to have been the intention. Manoj even addresses it in the film when Kannayiram says his mismatched hat and long coat costume has more to do with “feel” than utility. Maybe this all worked in the Telugu original Agent Sai Srinivasa Athreya (Agent Kannayairam is loosely based on the Telugu hit). The problem is that it doesn’t work here!

Agent Kannayiram is like the gun in the movie. Manoj wants to subvert Chekhov’s gun theory by introducing the gun into the film, which doesn’t fire until the end. But the film, like some other things, fails to establish this. Everything is unspoken and lacks the impact the director was aiming for, leaving us with a disappointing film that tries too hard. Not only the gun, the film doesn’t fire either.

Agent Kannayiram directed by Manoj Beedha

Agent Kannayiram Indian Express Rating: 2 stars

Cast of Agent Kannayiram: Santhanam, Riya Suman, Indhumathy, Pugazh, E Ramadoss


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