In the midst of movies that are content to set and meet low expectations, one can be happy
that Maayaavi atleast tries to do many things. At different times, it can be viewed
as a comedy, a romance, a fantasy, a thriller or even a satire on the life of a movie star.
It might have been a classic if it had done all of the above right all the time. But
unfortunately, it does only some of the things(the comedy and the satire) right and even
those, only some of the time.
Balayya(Surya), a tourist guide in Mahabalipuram, is not averse to stealing small items
from the visiting tourists. Once when times are particularly tough, he and his friend
Satyaraj(Satyan) decide to commit a bigger robbery. But the house they select turns out to
be that of Jyothika(Jyothika), the popular film actress. Jyothika catches him the act and
naturally, subsequent meetings between them are not particularly civil. Things come to a
head When Jyothika(under manipulation by her scheming manager) accuses Balayya of misbehaving
with her and this lands him in jail for three months. An enraged Balayya kidnaps Jyothika to
teach her a lesson.
When it works, Maayaavi is enjoyable and this mostly happens when the movie, atleast
within cinematic boundaries, is lightly grounded in reality. In Surya we get an instantly
likeable, fairly unique character. His goodheartedness is showcased in his affection for
the girl and he has just the right amount of bad qualities to not make him too boring.
Having an actress as the heroine is fairly fresh in that she is a regular actress and not
someone who is overtly unhappy with her life(as is usually the case with actress roles in
movies). Scenes like Surya's first break-in into Jyothika's house are staged very well. His
reactions on realizing whose house he is in are right on the mark and his imitation of her
dance steps is hilarious.
The scenes at Jyothika's house are also very funny and several offhand comments by her,
her mother and her manager are sharp and give us an inkling of the real life and attitude
of a star. But the movie increasingly distances itself from reality as it progresses and
that results in distancing the movie from us also. Surya walking into shooting spots and
talking to actors(like Vijayakanth) very easily is not too bad since it gives an opportunity
for a cameo by him. But when Jyothika accuses Surya of molesting her or Surya poses as the
hero in a film shooting and kidnaps her in Tarzan-like fashion, things become a little too
unrealistic and fantasy-like.
The comedy loses steam once Surya actually kidnaps Jyothika. Her attempts at escaping
are not very funny but having real directors and producers express their opinion on the
kidnapping is a nice touch. Things also turn more than a little sentimental as Jyothika goes
through the 'Stockholm syndrome'. But the director can be credited for not making things
go overboard by overdoing this angle. The climax is short and manages to partially
get back the realism that marked the initial portions of the movie.
Maayaavi confirms the fact that Surya has really become a versatile actor. Though this
is similar to the character he donned in Pithaamagan ,
it still is impressive how far the previously introverted actor has come. He has polished
his dancing skills too as seen in the Tamizhnaattil... song. Jyothika looks cute
but overacts in a few scenes, bringing back scary memories of her
pre- 12B . But she does deserve credit for bravely speaking
the lines that actually satire her own life. Satyan fails as a comedian and many lines
lose their impact because of his low-key delivery. Songs by debutant music director Devi
Sriprasad are fast and peppy. Kaathaadi Pola... is enthusiastically sung by Manicka
Vinayagam and picturised well also. Seettukattu Rani... is also a fun song with a