Yes, people can be good.
Yes, there can be purity all around.
Yes, lives can indeed change with utmost happiness.
Yes, true love does meet after all, even if it takes years.
These, and a lot more niceties, come together to make Maara which makes for a delightful piece of work that has just arrived on Amazon Prime. The promo did give an impression of a fairy tale set up in the contemporary times. This is exactly how the film begins as well with Padmavati Rao, seen a year back in Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior, narrates a fairy tale to the young Paaru [Shraddha Srinath]. There is a prince, who is not hunting for his princess, but a fish which is carrying his soul. Heavens come together to make it happen but destiny has other plans.
Picking up this basic line, writer-director Dhilip Kumar comes up with his own spin of Dulquer Salmaan and Parvathy’s Charlie to create his Maara. He brings in a lot of originality into play but what catches attention right from the moment Shraddha sets her feet in Kerala is sheer painting on celluloid that’s on display. It is not just the natural beauty of the God’s own country which makes it an enriching experience; it’s the manner in which cinematographers Dinesh Krishnan and Karthik Muthukumar color up the whole atmosphere is what makes it special.
To think of it, Madhavan makes his first appearance in the film only after 25 odd minutes have passed by and then is almost a mythical figure right till the interval point when he quietly fades away, well, literally. This is where one has to credit Shraddha for holding up the film with her pleasant persona that ensures that all eyes are on when she comes on the screen. As a girl who is in hunt for her own identity a la Deepika Padukone in Love Aaj Kal, albeit with far lesser complex state of mind, she steps feet into Madhavan’s humble abode, and discovers him.
The entire neighborhood seems to know him, not as much for ‘what he is’ but ‘what he does’. Whether it is having drinks with a friendly thief [Alexander Babu] or treating a night walker [Abhirami] with a ‘kulfi’ on a rainy night or writing and re-writing a love letter for the postman turned farmer who is hunting for his own love for 50 years [Mouli] or saving the life of a suicidal doctor [Shivada Nair] or rescuing a young girl from being pushed into sex trade, Maara is not just good, he is an identity for everything that can be good.
No wonder, in the world that we live in, this comes across as nothing but a fantasy tale. Does the man really exist? Is he a myth? Is he from folklore? Is this indeed a real world? Is it a dream?
A lot of such questions come to the mind, more so since the woman actually never gets to meet the man and only hears about him. Sirf Tum, anyone?
While all of this and more keeps you engaged as an audience as you want to know how the film would culminate and what’s the relevance of the fairy tale that was narrated at the beginning, the film is 20 minutes too long. I personally have nothing against long movies; in fact I am a fan of films from the 70s and the 80s when a typical movie ran for three hours. However, as long as they hold, it’s good. In case of Maara, since it’s a film primarily around life and what it has to offer, there were some scenes in there which got stretched after a point.
Moreover, the ending shifts its focus on a tangent which had seemed peripheral for a larger part of the film but emerges to be the core of it. That happens at the point where I was more excited to check out what happens to the key protagonists but the instead it’s the other characters who end up getting prominence. Nonetheless, the good part is that it is justified for sure, more so since the beginning and the end of the film come together, courtesy the back-story, hence lending a satisfying convergence and making you sigh – ‘Oh, so this is what the story was all about’.
All in a beautiful film in look as well as heart which is made special due to heartwarming performances by Madhavan and Shraddha Srinath with some sensitive making by Dhilip. For producers Prateek Chakravorty and Shruti Nallappa, it was a brave decision to bring Maara in the OTT space when the making was lavish enough to warrant a big screen outing. However, considering the kind of out and out positive response that Maara is gathering and the fact that it is in here for a long run, they for sure would be pleased.