Synopsis: A young man, on the advice of an agent, lies that he is married, to go to London. But his visa application is rejected and now, he has to follow-up with a string of lies to hide one lie.
Review: While most filmmakers provide the message of their film in the end, Manikandan, in fact, begins Aandavan Kattalai with a card that says that the film is meant to create awareness. He gives us the message right before the beginning of his film: Trusting middlemen is like using others to scratch your nose.
The story revolves around Gandhi (Vijay Sethupathi, pitching in with a smartly judged performance that brings out the innate decency of this character), a forthright young man, who comes to Chennai from Madurai with his friend Pandi (Yogi Babu, who is the star of the first half, and brings the house down with his one-liners), hoping to go to London and find some work and settle his loans. An agent (SS Stanley) 'advises' him to lie in his passport application that he is married, so that he stands a chance to get a visa. However, his visa application is rejected (Pandi, meanwhile, gets his!), and Gandhi starts working as an accountant in a theatre group. But when an opportunity to go to London with the group comes his way, Gandhi has to get his 'wife's' name removed from his passport, to stay in the good books of the group's head (Nasser). For that, he has to find a girl who has the same name as the one mentioned in the passport — Karmeghakuzhali. And as luck would have it, he finds one — a journalist (Ritika Singh, spirited) — but can he convince her to be part of this divorce process?
Just like how Manikandan's Kaaka Muttai and Kutrame Thandanai refrained from finger-pointing and sermonising, Aandavan Kattalai, too, is far from being preachy, despite involving a subject that offer plenty of targets to take pot-shots at. Both as a writer and filmmaker, the director acts as an observer of characters and their actions, never blatantly judging them (even the scheming ones come across as people who are just making use of an opportunity), and letting the viewer imbibe the message. This technique works marvellously here, where almost every character feels like someone we could encounter in real life. The film is superbly cast, right down to the minor characters like Cheenu Mohan, who works in the passport office. And it is filled with humorous stretches, like when Gandhi and Pandi go house-hunting or the proceedings in a family court. There is also an underlying pathos in this tale, which beautifully comes to the fore once Gandhi's lies start unravelling.
The film is somewhat leisurely paced, but that isn't much of an issue, as the scenes are engaging. The only underwhelming aspect here is that Manikandan doesn't show us Gandhi's admission of guilt with the theatre group's head, more so because his string of lies begins because he value's the man's trust.