Karthick Naren - the young and talented director of Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru fame, Dhanush - one of Tamil Nadu's biggest acting talents, an ensemble cast that includes names like Samuthrakani, Aadukalam Naren and Ameer, and a reputed production house like Sathya Jyothi Films, it's a collaboration that looks promising on paper. "What can go wrong?", you might ask. Well, Maaran is the answer for you.
Following Jagame Thandhiram and Atrangi Re, Dhanush’s third direct to OTT release, Maaran, starts as an investigative crime thriller and soon detours to becoming an emotional driller. Even at such a short runtime of a little more than 2 hours, it drills into your soul and leaves you to question the hollowness in your hearts.
Maaran starts with a cliched tragic flashback, where the young Mathimaaran (Dhanush) loses his honest journalist father, who is butchered on the streets for exposing a political scam, and his pregnant mother after delivering his little sister, all on the same day. With the help of his uncle (Aadukalam Naren), he takes on the role of being his sister’s sole protector. However, the tragedy in the flashback doesn't really translate to the audience since it plays out as mere melodrama.
Maaran for some reason uses body shaming as a tool to shower his love on his sister Shwetha (Smruthi Venkat). For instance he fat shames her by calling names like “drum” to convey that she can’t be eating so much if she wants to become a model. However, you can feel the warmth of their bond in the rest of the film especially when they save the hard earned money to gift something special to each other.
Following his journalist father’s footsteps, Maaran strictly lives by the proverb that “the pen is mightier than the sword” both figuratively and literally because he is an investigative journalist who believes in speaking truth to power and he also uses his pen as a weapon to fight goons.
Dhanush is attacked for exposing a scam planned by an ex-minister (Samuthrakani) which eventually lands his sister in trouble. What happens next with decent twists and turns, and a surprise villain (Ameer) who mushrooms right before the climax without much of a foreshadow, is the rest of the story. Meanwhile, Thara (Malavika Mohanan) features as a part-time romantic lead cum motivational speaker for Maaran.
Dhanush tries his best to save the hasty and incoherent screenplay with his performance as a singer, dancer and an actor but none of it can save Maaran. In fact, the self obsession of the character to constantly boast about being a celebrity writer and punch down on other professionals like nurses, models and camera assistants more is rude than funny.
Maaran's script also suffers from giant loopholes. To cite a few - Maaran secures a journalist's job over a weird competition to gross more likes for a tweet than a senior reporter in the organisation, everyone in the city recognises it as Maaran's tweet when it was obviously posted from the news organisation's handle. At the end of an introduction song, Maaran becomes an award winning celebrity reporter who even gets featured in competitor news organisations(!). Also, did I forget to mention that an auto driver picks Malavika Mohanan right in time to drop her home safely during one of Dhanush's fight scenes? Maaran lives in his own weird world where all of this is possible. Maaran is unable to lift itself above these narrative inconsistencies.
However, the background score and the songs by GV Prakash Kumar are worth mentioning, especially since Dhanush has sung two songs in Maaran - Pollatha Ulagam and Chittu Kuruvi.
I wish Karthik Naren took the advice of Maaran’s father- being honest makes people in power feel uncomfortable. So, it isn't just enough to be honest but equally important to be smart in ensuring that your loved ones are not in trouble because of your honesty. Had Karthik taken this piece of advice seriously, he could have treated his honest screenplay with some smartness and probably his fans might not have been so massively disappointed.
Rating: 2.5 Out of 5