‘Maaran’ movie review: A passive Dhanush tries to keep you invested in an incomplete film

The promos for Maaran reminded us all that a pen is mightier than the sword. It is about time Karthick Naren puts it to use

March 11, 2022 11:51 pm | Updated 11:56 pm IST

A still from ‘Maaran’

A still from ‘Maaran’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

On the surface, you could say that Maaran is a thriller about an investigative journalist facing the heat from a politician for his ‘explosive’ report against him. But the real thrill for us is to investigate the events that came about sanctioning a budget for an incomplete work by a director who once made a cracking debut. 

Maaran, by all means, looks like a terrible mish mash of scenes stitched together in a haphazard manner in order to meet the deadline. In that sense, itdefinitely belongs to editor Prasanna GK, for Karthick Naren and team must have figured out what sort of a film they were making in the first place, only at the edit table.

Not to take anything away from the technicians involved and their hard work, but this film should have been scrapped even before it took off. I use the word ‘scrap’ because Maaran’s script has a giant pothole at the centre: the absence of a central idea; the womb of the story or soul — whatever you call it. What hurts is, nobody including Karthick Naren seems to have realised this when they still had a chance.

Before they got along to write, I would imagine the discussion room to be something like this: “Okay boys, we have got the dates of Dhanush and Samuthirakani today. Come on, quick, suggest scenes.” Maaran feels like the film that was written on the basis of the artist’s availability on a given day. How else would you justify?

Let us take a 10-minute sequence in any film for instance. The rules of the screenplay is, the scene needs to move from Point A to Point B so that it sets up the next sequence. Notice how in Maaran, the scenes don’t segue right from the start. The transition from Point A to Point B doesn’t happen here since the filmmaker doesn’t even have an idea, except to make a movie about an investigative journalist. Why? Because investigative journalists are cool. Does the film at least stay true to that? No. After the first half hour or so, Dhanush as investigative journalist Maaran ceases to exist and Dhanush, the revenge-seeking Anna for his Thangachi, is at the forefront. Should we laugh? Cry? Or do both?

The writing is awful. Maaran is the multiple award-winning investigative journalist who has a cover in a national magazine. Guess the name of the organisation he writes for…The News. Guess how he impresses his bosses during the interview...by posting a viral tweet. The makers are that clueless about their own subject material. But, but, there is a “twist”. A Christopher Nolan-level twist. That Maaran is a thangachi sentiment film in the garb of an investigative thriller.

We saw this threat earlier in Valimai too. What is this fetish to write overly sentimental scenes for a genre that is anything but family drama? We don’t know. But it is clear that what such filmmakers lack is direction. And Karthick Naren does not even come across as a sentimental filmmaker, at least from what we have seen of his so far!

As for the plot, Sathyamoorthy (Ramki) is an investigative journalist. His wife is pregnant with a second child which means in Tamil cinema’s rulebook, she wouldn’t last beyond the 10-minute mark on screen. Sathyamoorthy gets killed right in front of his son Maaran for exposing a corrupt politician. Which means the siblings are on their own. Which also means it is a kick-ass Rajini film template from the ‘80s.

Maaran grows up to be what his father was. This is the only portion in the film that feels complete. Notice how Dhanush is introduced in this film. Ask yourself what does it say about the character he plays? Nothing. Notice how Samuthirakani is introduced as a one-dimensional politician-villain. In the said scene, he informs the party leader that he would take care of the journalist who exposed him. Like, seriously? But, but, the best scene has to be the one where we come to know that Maaran and Thara (Malavika Mohanan) are romantically involved from Maaran’s sister (Smruthi Venkat). The rest are a new level of bland.

The promos for Maaran reminded us all that a pen is mightier than the sword. It is high time Karthick Naren puts it to use.

Maaran is streaming on Disney+Hotstar.

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