Every Friday, you don’t always find complete satisfaction in stepping out of the realm of entertainment that engrosses you for more than two hours, leaving you with lingering thoughts. Maaveeran attempts to be a political superhero film that is embedded in its environment, challenges traditional norms, and delights both commercial cinema enthusiasts and critics alike. It manages to strike a balance on all fronts.
Recent days have witnessed Shivakarthikeyan’s ability to make even an incomplete story appear captivating (as evident in his previous films), and he can elevate it further through his charisma. In Maaveeran, Madon Ashwin gives Shiva center stage and plays with his strengths, while also becoming a tool for the complete directorial vision. The puppet and puppeteer are in perfect sync, with the actor excelling in his role, and Ashwin shaping it into a director’s film.
The screenplay writing is splendid. There is much to unfold, even in the initial parts of the film, where we witness Satya (played by Shivakarthikeyan), a comic book artist narrating a story about a valiant hero who rescues a girl in distress but is eventually sold by a cunning cartoonist who adds his name to it.
Satya comes from a humble background and believes in shutting his eyes to all injustices, even if the system mistreats him. He only cares about something that affects his mother (Sarita) or sister (Monisha Blessy) in a way that is beyond compromise. And that’s precisely what happens when the government relocates their entire slum into a shoddy ten-story apartment built by a corrupt minister. Jayakodi M.N. (a play on the Hindu god of death, ‘Yaman’). Unlike the shanties of the slum, Makklamaaligai, named after the vertically towering structure, becomes a unifying force for all its residents
Things escalate, Satya is pushed to the edge, and he receives a jolt, only to hear a voice (Vijay Sethupathi, in a film that bears several resemblances to his ‘Yogi Babu’ character and his employers) that narrates the future events based on the second of occurrence, providing him a glimpse of how he should feel, like a reflection in the mirror of his consciousness.
Satya struggles to become a hero and the reluctance of this reluctant superhero is intricately woven into the core of the story. He is his own Kryptonite, and like most superheroes, it becomes an issue that affects his loved ones, motivating him to leap with a leap of faith and strive for greater good.
Premonition-like power gives clarity to action sequences, but the way Ashwin stages these sequences is remarkable. Each scene adds something organic, generally offering a clever twist, keeping his journey intact and keeping you engaged. It is a fact that most scenes also contain the hilarious comedy of Yogi Babu and Shivakarthikeyan, which further elevates its entertainment quotient.
Maaveeran seems like the creation of a confident writer who embellishes a straightforward story only with the necessary adornments; each open page closes before moving forward. For instance, consider the dynamics and resolution of Sunil and Maisskin (both excellent in their roles). Similarly, while we never hear the voice that always speaks to Satya, Ashwin plays alongside it to create something more.
You may not be able to help, but you can appreciate the destruction caused by the humorous saga of Maaveeran and Elavarasi. The writing is such that to some extent, even the anticipated third act gives you plenty to chew on. However, in an otherwise straightforward political drama, you wish Ashwin’s opinion on migrant workers – something that Yogi Babu’s character and his employers touch upon – was more transparent.
Elavarsi, much like Mandela’s female lead – Aditi Shankar, as a journalist named Neela – aids the reluctant hero and ultimately becomes part of his mission. So much so that when Neela assists Satya in understanding Maaveeran in a flyover set scene, she doesn’t come across as a mere ‘fixer heroine’; she becomes the voice we, as the audience, feel.
Music composer Bharath Shankar provides a solid foundation that supports Ashwin’s vision, and with Vidhu Ayyanna’s visuals, Bharath assists in crafting a straightforward urban superhero. The music narrative becomes integrated, to the point that the scene-by-scene ‘Aah see Aah’ big dance number, featuring the voice of Anirudh Ravichander, doesn’t stick as an entry song for the hero but holds more significance to the world-building.
Maaveeran is a tale about finding your inner voice, urging you to do what is right, to bring home those who shut their eyes until the waves destroy their homes; Shiva excels in this high-concept action film that also respects the sensitivity of commercial cinema
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