Star Cast: R Madhavan, Shraddha Srinath, Mouli, Padmavati Rao, Shivada Nair and ensemble.
Director: Dhilip Kumar
What’s Good: The aesthetics and the hard work that has gone in putting together a production design so beautiful yet in sync with the story.
What’s Bad: Dhilip Kumar over obsessing with his material and in turn leading to dragging some points unnecessarily.
Loo Break: somewhere in the first half you will know when to. If you don’t, good for you, let the magic work.
Watch or Not?: Maara is a fairy-tale in all the real sense. Dhilip Kumar if not a full feature, at least has some heart touching short stories to tell within this film. Watch it for them.
Adapted from Dulquer Salmaan’s claim to charm and fame Malayalam film Charlie, Maara takes an effort to tell another version of the story. Stumbled upon a fascinating story in her childhood, Paru (Shraddha Srinath) finds it again in her life. This brings her to Maara (R Madhavan) who intrigues her much that she starts tracing him just to see him.
Maara Movie Review: Script Analysis
The first thing I want everyone to notice is that, even when the film is an adaptation of another film, it is only the essence that has been carried forward. Maara is not a cut, copy, paste job from Charlie, but has a voice of its own. Ansuman Bhagat and Dhilip Kumar deserve a brownie point for showing the world how it’s done.
Maara that is blessed with fantastic production design, if not seen through the lens of a remake, can easily pass as one made by someone who worships Imtiaz Ali. For director Kumar, this is his debut, and he chooses intervened love as his first dynamic.
The writing in Maara is partially non-linear but understandable. Ansuman takes the blueprint of Charlie and gives it his own twist. Unlike Charlie, in Maara, the protagonist here isn’t just a nomad but a man roaming around with a baggage of a promise made decades ago.
Making that a parallel plot, he also intervenes stories of how this nomad has touched lives, and they speak volumes in their way. While that of Vellaiya gets the most significant share of the cake, the one that will stay with me for the longest will be of Selvi, a s*x worker played by Abhirami. It reminded me of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya (I love the film). That was a fairy-tale too! Eureka.
While all this keeps us hooked and in love, Ansuman gets so busy exploring these parallel plots, that he forgets he had introduced a woman who is out finding herself, just to be reminded by the end. This leads to a climax that doesn’t sum up things like one would want a fairy tale to end.
There is a lot to be taken home from Maara, the sense of belonging, love, longing, optimism, art and charm Madhavan’s character sees through his eyes. But all of this needs a glue to bind and it gets weaker when the team collectively starts obsessing with the story they are building up.
Maara Movie Review: Star Performance
With time, we all have associated R Madhavan with a wide-eyed charmer who can be a bagpiper, and we will follow him to the cliff. And he definitely knows that and uses it to fill the screen with his magic. Though having a minimal screen time in the first half, he does manage to make us wait for him.
Shraddha Srinath is evolving and you can see that clearly. Watch out for her when she has no lines, her eyes do the talk and that is enough to tell you she is working hard towards it. While half of her battles with her family are forgotten halfway through, and it becomes a ‘finding Maara’ show, Srinath manages to grab the limelight she wants.
Amongst others, Mouli, who plays Vellaiya stands out. His cuteness covered with strictness and the father in him shine when comes on the screen.
Maara Movie Review: Direction, Music
Dhilip Kumar, as said, seems to be very inspired by Imtiaz Ali and somewhere SLB too. He loves to add poetry to not just the story, but the execution of it visually as well. But, he is not the man who plays with metaphors unlike the two filmmakers, but he depends on showing it all.
While it looks beautiful, this also dilutes the product. For, e.g., the sequence where Paru discovers Maara’s work all over the town, is too long. After a point it becomes repetitive, and you want her to reach the end of this jigsaw. There are a few more of these.
Art direction by Ajayan Chelissery is one of the best modern South cinema has seen till date. The painted roads, rustic elements on them, the ageing houses and the grass peeping out of the walls, everything is aesthetic and works for the camera.
That brings me to cinematographer Dinesh Krishnan and Karthik Muthukumar who manage to capture the beauty of these landscapes and also the created set designs. Music by Ghibran also manages to be a standout.
Maara Movie Review: The Last Word
Maara is not for the ones who cannot have a bit suspension of disbelief. But if you have an imagination that can travel far, go for it. There are flaws and a lot of them, but there is a lot of hope too, let’s see at the greener side this time.
Maara releases on 08th January 2021.
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