Director: Karthick Naren
With: Dhanush, Malavika Mohanan, Samuthirakani, Smruthi Venkat, Jayaprakash, Ramki
Disney+ Hotstar’s latest offering, Maaran, written and directed by Karthick Naren (Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru), drowns in absurdity. A crazy storyline strives to highlight political corruption tempered by a journalistic investigation by Dhanush’s titular character, Mathimaaran. He fails to convince.
Minutes into the film, Maaran’s father, journalist Sathyamoorthy (Ramki), is slaughtered in the street as he takes his pregnant wife to the hospital. She dies giving birth to a baby girl, who becomes Shwetha (Smruthi Venkat). His older brother, Maaran, is following in his father’s footsteps, fearlessly reporting societal and administrative misdeeds. And things go awry when he exposes a scam involving electronic voting machines – the man behind it being a powerful ex-minister, Pazhani (an efficient Samuthirakani).
Certainly, the plot resonates with the prevailing political climate in which allegations of machine tampering are common. But the script is so poor that the two-hour long film becomes an insufferable watch with even a superficial modicum of authenticity missing.
Imagine Maaran walking into a newspaper office – which looks like a fashion studio – for an interview and landing the job in the most illogical way. Is this how media workers are hired? His uncle (Aadukalam Naren) lives in a posh house. No complaints, except that he presses clothes for a living and his mobile unit is stationed outside this fancy building!
Halfway through, the film slips into the thriller genre with Shwetha being kidnapped and burned alive – sending Maaran into a frenzied stupor. In the end, when the revelations come, this sequence would fall flat.
The movie crawls into the same old Maaran slot machine taking on dozens of men single-handedly – that’s when it doesn’t say why the media should strive to be fair, free and without fear. When he’s not in either of those areas, he’s in romantic mode with his office mate, Thara (Malavika Mohanan). Or, we are thrown into the sister-brother bonds of chivalry and protective guardianship. Brother Maaran can’t even imagine his little sister getting married and flying away one day.
All of these have been done to death in Tamil cinema, and here in Naren’s work, they’ve all been programmed to uphold Dhanush as a benefactor, a spotless journalist, and most importantly, a hero who cannot be defeated! Suspension of disbelief? Come on, there’s a line here too.
It’s sad that despite the common notion that Dhanush is a good actor, I’ve yet to see a definitive performance arc in him. Movie after movie, he sports the same looks and expressions – a sort of sad sack figure! Maybe he needs a good director like the ones his father-in-law, Rajinikanth, had early in his career, when he did some memorable stuff. The ones that still strike me today are K. Balachander’s Apoorva Raagangal and Moondru Mudichu. It’s another story that he gave up “acting” for the show later. Or, he could have turned into Amitabh Bachchan of Tamil cinema.
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