Maara is Madhavan’s mellowest masterpiece

Maara, God bless its optimistic idealistic heart, says it’s never too late or far-fetched to find true love. And it says it with the gently persuasive warm-heartedness of a diehard romantic

Photo Courtesy: Social Media
Photo Courtesy: Social Media

Subhash K Jha

It’s not easy to love somebody unconditionally. It is even more difficult to make a film about unconditional love in a day and age when every relationship is need-based. Maara is the work of what we call a hopeless romantic….at least that’s how it feels when Vellaiya (the wonderful veteran Mouli) lives for 50 years with the idea of love. How hopeful can you be in your twilight years about finding your true love when she has eluded you all your life?

Maara, God bless its optimistic idealistic heart, says it’s never too late or far-fetched to find true love. And it says it with the gently persuasive warm-heartedness of a diehard romantic. This is a rare film that isn’t cynical about romance and love even in these jaded decadent times. It’s a film brimming over with affection and compassion that invites you into its wonderful Utopian embrace unconditionally.

It took me a while, about 20 minutes, to get into the film’s rhythm. Once in, I was completely hooked, almost mesmerized by the graceful yet completely unpredictable movement of the plot. Though this is an official remake of the Malayalam superhit Charlie it is Charlie only at the basic plot-level.

Debutant director Dhilip Kumar introduces notable new characters and sub-plots. They all merge finally into a beautifully designed pastiche of unalloyed love.

The film begins with an animation fairytale about a warrior and his quest for a fish whom he holds responsible for all his success in life. Finding one fish in the ocean is like finding true love in the universe. This idea is built into a narrative that risks several leaps of faith and lands safely and gracefully on its feet.

Maara is constructed into an episodic excursion, the traveler being Paru(played by the lovely and talented Shraddha Srinath), a serious-minded romantic restorationist who keeps running into experiences about a mysterious pure heart named Maara(spoiler alert: actual name Manimaran, revealed only at the end). Maara is the sort of idealistic nobleman that exists only in fairytales. He befriends a mischievous thief (delightfully played by Alexander Babu), rescues a suicidal pediatrician(SShivada), protects a prostitute Selvi(Abhirami)’s daughter from being pushed into the flesh trade, and wins over a hill resort filled with elder citizens who resemble the cackling Irish-Italian octogenarians in the film Return To Me.

All this overload of goodness would be too much for any actor to bear. Madhavan carries off the title role effortlessly. His face and his attitude suggest a restorative urgency in the moral fabric on contemporary society. The debutante director tells Paru’s story of her search for ‘Maara’ in bouts of temperamental storytelling. Episodes come in no particular order and yet reveal their relevance at the end much in the same way as in the Orson Welles classic Citizen Kane.

Oh yes, there is a mysterious symbolical ‘rosebud’ reference in Maara too. It is ‘Meenakshi’. For more on this mysterious woman, please refer to the film. It provides an unlimited source of joyful revelations. It is no coincidence that the film is about the restoration of heritage homes and faded undecipherable letters. Maara restores our faith in the power of love to heal the world. And that is a tall order indeed.

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