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Maharaja Movie Review

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In the midst of midsummer 2024, Kollywood faces a drought, with only one or two noteworthy movies so far. Meanwhile, Mollywood has been consistently delivering hit films over the past six months. Against this backdrop, “Maharaja,” a Vijay Sethupathi starrer, makes its release. Interestingly, Vijay Sethupathi, who once faced internet trolls regarding his omnipresence, I don't know if he took those personally 🤣 hasn’t been releasing movies frequently lately, making this film’s arrival after a considerable gap. About a decade ago, I watched a short film on Naalaiya Iyakunar and despite its production limitations, moved me to tears by the end. Recently, I discovered that the same director, Nithilan Swaminathan, was behind both “Maharaja” and “Kurangu Bommai.”

The film features notable actors like Natty Natrajan, Anurag Kashyap, Abirami, and BharathiRaja, along with references to Kunal and Ramki. Like his previous works, Vijay Sethupathi delivered an outstanding performance as Vijay Sethupathi. While in the movie "Master," he showcased his one-punch strength, in this film, he demonstrates a remarkable ability to maintain a firm grip on certain elements, which is utilized more effectively, both in a comical and serious manner, compared to "Master." Natty Natrajan also left a strong impression, and his portrayal of a police officer was reminiscent of his role in "Bagasuran," which shared a similar storyline with this movie. However, Anurag Kashyap's performance seemed to be a disappointment. While it is common practice to cast actors from the Malayalam film industry, and utilize them poorly, this time we went with bollywood. Not only was his acting subpar or nonexistent, but there was also a noticeable lack of proper lip-syncing. It is commendable that he pursued a career as a director rather than an actor. Even manikandan ( they guys in Boys movie who dies ) seems to be a far more better cast than Anurag Kashyap.

The film "Maharaja" shares several similarities with the movie "Kurangu Bommai," such as the dramatic scenes unfolding around the police station, the unexpected reveal of the antagonist leading a seemingly normal life, and the antagonist meeting a fate worse than death. The non-linear narrative structure, where the complete picture is unveiled only at the end, is also a commonality between the two films. Vijay Sethupathi's character in "Maharaja" bears a striking resemblance to Vidharth's role in "Kurangu Bommai." Despite early speculations that the movie would tackle the subject of sexual abuse, it ultimately explores themes of revenge and the cyclical nature of vengeance.

The film has a sluggish beginning, drawing numerous parallels and introducing characters who exhibit abnormally violent behavior, which distances the narrative from reality. The portrayal of a school principal as a rowdy, a politician assaulting a mechanic without investigation, and police officers slapping civilians attempting to file complaints contribute to this disconnect. The first half features dialogues that feel unnecessarily extended, rendering some scenes dull and slow-paced.

Akin to the iconic "Chandramukhi" snake, "Maharaja" incorporates scenes with a snake and Bharathiraja. The shots of Vijay Sethupathi with a snake around his neck and holding it in his hand, while not directly advancing the plot, added an intriguing visual element. It is uncertain whether these snake references hold any correlation with Lord Shiva, especially considering the inclusion of characters with Hindu mythological names like NallaSivam, Perumalsamy, and Lakshmi.

While the film features numerous fight scenes that feel tedious and merely serve as fillers, there is one particularly satisfying action sequence reminiscent of the slow-motion fight scene from "Vishwaroopam." This engaging sequence provides an excellent lead-in to the intermission. From this point onwards, the story gains momentum, and the movie becomes considerably more interesting. As the narrative progresses towards the climax, it becomes increasingly captivating. Certain events are depicted in a manner where some characters comprehend them directly, while others perceive them differently, creating an intriguing dynamic that becomes apparent upon viewing.

The film incorporates clever wordplay and subtle references to specific scenes. For instance, when a character remarks, "If I don't get my friend, my head will roll," the subsequent scene depicts his friend's decapitated head literally rolling on the floor. Similarly, the phrase "having an ear in one's back," which metaphorically means being able to hear when someone talks, is employed both as a reference to an element from a character's past and as a subtle nod to two other characters bearing markings on their backs. The film's also explores karmic retribution, where actions have consequences that often mirror the original transgressions. For example, gold acquired through ill-gotten means, referred to as "blood money," finds its way back to more bloodshed. In another instance, someone who had previously broken another person's neck meets a similar fate, having their own neck cut. The villain's pursuit of revenge ultimately backfires on them establishing a sense of poetic justice within the storyline.

The movie suffers from small world problem, where the universe portrayed on screen is implausibly compact, leading to characters repeatedly crossing paths and coincidences occurring more frequently than would be expected in real life. These serendipitous events not only serve to amplify the narrative but also propel the story forward in a contrived manner. For instance, Vijay Sethupathi's character fortuitously visits the politician at the precise moment when Manikandan's character arrives, providing the crucial lead that sets the entire plot in motion. Coincidentally, the police team happens to apprehend someone seemingly at random, who turns out to be the very person Vijay Sethupathi's character has been searching for. Similarly, Vijay Sethupathi's character conveniently arrives at Anurag Kashyap's residence just as the police arrive, establishing him as Anurag's nemesis. These convenient setups and contrivances make the overall plot feel somewhat constructed and lacking in organic realism, as numerous events align too perfectly to advance the storyline, straining plausibility in the process.

The film appears to share significant narrative overlap with the movies "Irattha" and "Oppam." Despite this familiarity, "Maharaja" manages to maintain an engaging sense of suspense throughout, making it a worthwhile viewing experience. However, the lack of truly novel elements or compelling depth diminishes the film's rewatchability factor. While the suspenseful storytelling succeeds in captivating the audience during the initial viewing, there isn't much substance or complexity that would warrant multiple revisits.