Maaran Movie Review: An indifferent Dhanush goes through the motions in this inept film
Even at a duration of a little more than two hours, this film seems interminable, trudging from one uninspired development to another
Even as early as about five minutes into Maaran, it’s hard to care. The craft seems to belong in a bad TV serial, and the dialogues and performances don't help either. During these opening minutes, you get journalist Sathyamoorthy (Ramki) rambling on about publishing the ‘truth’, while it gets established that his wife is pregnant and ready to deliver ANY SECOND. A pregnant wife on the cusp of delivery in our 'commercial' cinema means that the bad men with sickles are in the vicinity and ready to pounce. Sometimes, it almost feels like they wait around for women to get pregnant, so they can strike. When the expected happens—as it does throughout this cliché-ridden film—you feel no shock. The real shock is when you realise that the director credits belong to the filmmaker who gave us Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru, that the film stars Dhanush, from whom we have come to expect better, much better.
Director: Karthick Naren
Cast: Dhanush, Malavika Mohanan, Ameer, Samuthirakani
Streaming On: Disney+ Hotstar
The film quickly bids goodbye to poor Sathyamoorthy, and as for his wife, though she escapes the bad men, she can’t escape the bad writing. We are told she passed away during childbirth, and even the nurse, who delivers this news, seems bored. The stage is finally set for little Maaran to raise the sister all by himself, with the elders in the family, particularly his uncle (Aadukalam Naren), not realising how ridiculous it is that they are trusting a young boy with the responsibility. Even by this time, around the 10-15-minute mark, it's easy to see where it’s all headed. In fact, you could write the rest in your sleep, and I dare say you might still come up with something that cares more, that has more to communicate.
The hero, Maaran, dearly loves his sister it seems, and so, he calls her ‘soththu maadu’ and ‘drum-u’ to communicate his concern that she seems to be eating a bit too much to become a model. Sincere journalist and truth-sayer Maaran shows a propensity to compare women with farm animals, and you see more evidence of this when he bumps into fellow-journalist Thara (Malavika Mohanan, who doesn’t matter in this film), and calls her ‘erumai’. Did you find these dialogues to be cute? No? You didn’t care? The film doesn’t care about you either, and trudges on from one uninspired development to another, and in between, it brings to you songs that reiterate the importance of mounting opposition to them.
What about the humour, you ask? There’s something about Thara getting hired to photograph Maaran’s sister, Swetha (Smruthi Venkat). There’s something about a drunk Thara making an advance on Maaran in an airplane. These attempts only serve to cause fatigue. In a film that’s even slightly better, I’d perhaps speak of the value of having a woman propose, of the hero not getting outraged at the heroine engaging in casual drinking… but Maaran cares so little that it’s hard not to respond in kind. Even at a duration of a little more than two hours, this film seems interminable
Dhanush seems shockingly—or perhaps relatably—apathetic to proceedings. He comes and goes, dances a bit, says his lines, fights a bit… but it all feels like he’s getting through a chore he knows he can’t get out of. This is never more obvious than in a stunt set-up scene when Maaran is surrounded by bad guys and almost like he were stealing the words from my mouth, he says, “Fight start pannuda loosu.”
Maaran suffers a personal loss and there’s a period when he goes through grief, but it doesn’t matter. Nothing does. When Thara gives him the cursory girlfriend-motivation speech™, the performance, the dialogue, the set-up… it all seems lacklustre. There’s a fight in which a pen literally turns out to be mightier than a sword; there’s even a twist or two to see whether you care… But it’s hard to, when the film doesn’t seem to. I dare say that I have likely put in more thought and effort into this review than it seems has gone into the writing and making of this film. One disturbing visual has stayed in my mind long after I have finished watching this film—that image of a person getting burned alive in their chair. I suspect I remember it only because it seems to adequately represent my experience of watching this film