After the tasteful investigative crime thriller Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru film maker Karthick Naren garnered the attention of Tamil cinema audience. The result, it upped the anticipation for his next entertainer Mafia to a higher level. The buzz around the flick further amplified when the story teller in an interview with a leading daily, stated that the entertainer is inspired from one of his favorite and much eulogized Netflix series Narcos. We get it. To people who are impatient to know whether the drama is up to the caliber of Narcos, it would be an obvious ‘no’. But the film is indeed about the drug syndicate and incredulously stylish for a flick set at the backdrop of Chennai. However, once you get past that factor it takes you on for a good ride inclusive of a fine share of bumpy zones as well.
Mafia opens with a group of happy people enjoying their weekend in a posh hotel. There is a shootout all of a sudden and people skedaddle to safety. Then the narrative is moved to a flashback portion where we get to see a narcotic police division team crack down on a couple of drug users as part of a small narcotic operation spearheaded by Aryan (Arun Vijay). Then we are up for the characters establishment which happens swiftly in a half baked way. Aryan is a dynamic cop in the Chennai narcotics department. He has his own reason – his brother who was suffering from drug addiction disappears forever – as to why he joined the task force. We are also presented with few narcotic reports for make believe purpose that the state has faced a drastic hike in drug users.
When the narcotic division is carrying out their ground work on the drug cartel responsible for the drug crisis Aryan’s senior official and a social activist Mugilan (Thalaivasal Vijay), who was also behind the drug network, gets killed. Aryan teams up with his vibrant teammates Sathya (Priya Bhavani Shankar) and Varun to take down the bigwigs behind the murders of their colleague. They begin their hunt by gathering necessary information. While probing the case Aryan cracks a clue left by Mugilan which leads him to an individual named Diwaker Kumaran aka DK (Prasanna), the chief of the drug mafia in Tamil Nadu who disguises himself as a powerful businessman in the state. DK learns that Aryan is behind his network and attempts to hinder his investigation in all always possible through the influence of powerful people.
While the cat and mouse game erupts between Aryan and DK they finally come across each other at the climax portion to set up the stage perfectly for chapter 2. Thus, the flick ends with a sort of gripping why Kattapa killed Baahubali twist.
Only a handful of film makers in Tamil cinema actually care about the technical standards of their flick and story teller Karthick Naren is one fine gem in making who apparently seems to be inspired (could also be put as obsessed) by the Hollywood standards. In that terms he has crafted his entertainer technically sound with some stunning visuals to take pleasure in. But he must also understand that the technical elements alone cannot keep the audience glued to the seats for a period of near 2 hours. For instance, the director’s previous drama Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru was much raved about because of its content first, and then for the top class technical standards deployed to uplift the flick.
In case of Mafia, the film maker has focused more on his craft than the story of the flick. As the result, the entertainer makes the audience witness lavishly stylish but feebly written characters dressed up fashionable and go on a trip to accomplish, what seem like a done to death purpose in Tamil cinema. Edge of the seat moments and adrenaline rushing action sequences are the necessary core elements for an investigative crime film based on drug syndicates to work well. But Mafia does not appear to worry about the lack of those factors and instead is much focused on dressing up its characters. But the promising thing about the film is that, it does set up the stage quite strongly for its sequel leaving the audience hooked on a cliff.
Actor Arun Vijay who has been flying high currently looks dashing and has lived up to the expectations. The only let down is his weakly penned characterization. Actor Prasanna is equally suave and seems to have opened up a new lane for him in the industry. Actress Priya Bhavani Shankar is also part of the film with a character which, could not help but make us question the purpose of it. The rest of the cast has delivered adequate performance and are equally well groomed to the lead characters.
On the technical front, to be outright it is a delight to analyze the drama from the technical aspects. Musician Jakes Bejoy helps in bolstering the classy visuals captures by cinematographer Gokul Benoy which is further upheld by editor Sreejith Sarang’s fine work. The costume designer of the flick deserves a mention for his amazing work.
On the whole, Mafia rides high on the technical wheel but gets punctured when it shifts to the plot wheel.