Maayon Movie Review: A VFX showreel in search of an intriguing film
The effort to visually enhance every scene is evident in this Kishore N-directorial but not every attempt sees fruition
Sibi Sathyaraj-starrer Maayon feels like a film designed to showcase the VFX prowess of the artists involved. The screenplay deliberately provides segues for VFX-heavy sequences that scream for our attention. For instance, chess is a device used to reflect the swiftly changing character dynamics over the course of the story. And every time an analogy between the story and the game is drawn, the scene cuts to computer-generated images of the chess pieces combating one another, to give us a battleground-like effect. In a similar vein, a coin tossed in the air gets a dedicated shot to establish that visual effects were used to achieve the scene; an image of a giant snake (remember Chandramukhi?) smashing a pillar resulting in pieces of brick flying in the air is shot given great attention; there’s also a long, indulgent, temper-testing mythological back story sequence, which yet again, looks like a showreel of an ‘effects and transitions’ package of a VFX software being telecast on a devotional TV channel.
Directed by: Kishore N
Starring: Sibi Sathyaraj, Tanya Ravichandran, Hareesh Peradi, KS Ravikumar
The film's love for VFX is stretched so much that there’s an entire classical song sequence ‘devoted' to a mini drone camouflaged as a bee flying through a temple, overcoming hindrances like diyas and a sadagopam. While the end result is not even remotely close to the creative, thrilling mini-adventure it aims it be, one can certainly discern the ambition it is driven by. This can be said about the whole film as well. Maayon thinks it is grand but, unfortunately, it’s not. Yet, it keeps trying relentlessly, backed by Ram Prasad’s sunny frames that define the film’s 'epic' mood.
Stitching the VFX sequences is the story of a cunning, money-minded archeologist named Arjun (Sibi) who preaches about the importance of antiques and their legacy in front of his students (why is he teaching? The writing never answers this.) and steals idols when they aren’t looking. He’s smart, sly, and deceptive; at least that’s what writing wants us to believe. When this con-archeologist's ‘partner-in-crime’ Devaraj (Hareesh Peradi, playing the one-note villain character he is now synonymous with) strikes a deal to steal the treasure hidden deep inside a sacred temple, Arjun doesn’t think twice. There’s a catch here: anyone who enters the temple after six in the evening goes mad. The opening minutes of the film establish this as a conflict, using a young, over-zealous priest who tries to capture the supernatural occurrences transpiring in the temple on his mobile. No prizes for guessing how he ends up. There is also an Italian villain, whose name sounds similar to Ferrari, the kingpin of ‘idol mafia’ who has handed this con mission to Arjun and Devaraj.
You see, there is a lot of information thrown at you in the first half of the film, like a dozen different iterations of the temple's backstory, the various paths leading to the treasure, and so on. I understand that the filmmaker believes in adhering to Chekhov's gun principle. However, if you spend two minutes giving us a crash course about the specificity of pi, we definitely know that this information will come in handy later in the film. All this does is to simply reduce this idea to a rather broad and liberally used device, exposition.
Maayon is neither smart nor subtle, but there is some passable fun to be had in the second half when the story shifts into the temple. This is when the film ventures into a horror-esque territory for a brief period, and you can experience the atmosphere the filmmaker is aiming to create with long stretches of building suspense. Again, do they work? To a certain extent, yes, but a couple of forced attempts at humour and the repetitive nature of the thrills bring them down. Also, the limitedness of the lead actors doesn’t help either. Beneath the limited acting, the exposition-heavy screenplay, the flashy cinematography, and the loud music is a creepy horror film that was never exploited, although the setting, replete with dark spaces, lends itself to jump scares and shock value.
Maayon is one of those films that is more amusing as an idea in mind or as text on paper. You can see the effort being poured in to translate this vision onto the screen, but somehow, the execution, although adequate, doesn’t do justice to the imagination of both the creator and the viewer.