(This article is authored by Alar)
Fahadh Faasil is known for his versatility and brilliance in acting. He has proved his mettle in Malayalam cinema with a range of roles that showcase his talent and skill. But he has also ventured into other languages and made a mark with his performances. His latest outing in Tamil cinema is Maamannan, a political thriller directed by Mari Selvaraj and produced by Udhayanidhi Stalin.
In Maamannan, Fahadh Faasil plays Rathnavelu, a district secretary of a political party who belongs to the dominant community. He is a cold-blooded, casteist and corrupt politician who does not hesitate to use violence and intimidation to achieve his goals. He is the nemesis of Maamannan (Vadivelu), an MLA from the oppressed community who rose from being a party cadre, and his son Athiveeran (Udhayanidhi Stalin), a practitioner of Adimurai, an ancient martial art.
Fahadh Faasil’s portrayal of Rathnavelu is nothing short of brilliant. He is the perfect antagonist for the protagonist duo of Maamannan and Athiveeran, who challenge his authority and ego. Mari Selvaraj sculpted the character as it should made the audience to hate the antagonist for his cruelty and arrogance, but in the twist in the turn, people admire him for his stylish charisma and complete replica of the perfect villain.
The film has several scenes that highlight the conflict between Rathnavelu and his rivals. One of the most memorable scenes is when Rathnavelu invites Maamannan and Athiveeran to his house to sort out an issue without further violence. But he insults them by making them stand while he sits on a chair. When Athiveeran asks his father to sit down, Rathnavelu slaps him and pushes Maamannan down. An enraged Athiveeran kicks down Rathnavelu and beats up his men. Rathnavelu runs to his room to fetch his gun, but his wife locks him inside to prevent further chaos.
Another scene that shows Rathnavelu’s brutality is when he unleashes his dogs and kills the pet pigs raised by Athiveeran. This is a symbolic act of cruelty that hurts the sentiments of Athiveeran and his friends and family, who belong to the oppressed community. Rathnavelu does this to take revenge for being humiliated by Athiveeran in front of his men.
The film has received mixed-to-positive reviews from critics, who have praised the performances of the lead actors, especially Fahadh Faasil. The film has also been appreciated for its socio-political commentary on caste oppression and violence in Tamil Nadu. The film has been streaming on Netflix since July 29, 2023.
But what has caught the attention of the netizens is the celebration of Fahadh Faasil’s character on social media platforms. Thousands of clips of his various actions and reactions as Rathnavelu have been shared by fans who are impressed by his acting skills. The clips have been edited with different songs, dialogues and sound effects to create hilarious mashup videos and memes.
Fahadh Faasil's portrayal of Rathnavelu in the movie "Maamannan" has sparked heated discussions and divided opinions among audiences. While some condemn the glorification of a ruthless character like Rathnavelu, asserting that it represents the darker aspects of casteism and political corruption, others commend Fahadh Faasil for fearlessly embracing challenging roles that showcase his immense talent and versatility.
Those critical of the character argue that celebrating Rathnavelu might seem insensitive and irresponsible, considering the negative connotations associated with such a persona. They also question the ethics of Fahadh Faasil for choosing a role that seemingly contradicts his progressive public image.
On the other side of the debate, Fahadh Faasil's defenders argue that appreciating Rathnavelu's character does not equate to endorsing his actions or beliefs. They believe that celebrating the performance is a way of acknowledging Fahadh Faasil's exceptional acting skills and his ability to bring complex characters to life on the screen. Moreover, they highlight that Rathnavelu is a fictional creation, and his presence should not be misconstrued as a reflection of real-life politics or society.
Amidst these contrasting opinions and lively debates, one undeniable truth remains: Fahadh Faasil once again proves his mettle as one of Indian cinema's finest actors through his remarkable portrayal in "Maamannan." His dedication to his craft and the ability to tackle diverse roles continue to earn him admiration and recognition within the industry and among fans.