Maara by Dhilip Kumar, the official remake of the 2015 Malayalam movie Charlie, has certain elements that make it a respectable remake. The makers are not trying to create a replica of the original written by Unni R. The restructuring they have given to the story will make it an interesting experience for even the ones who have seen Charlie. Like how Jayaram’s character in Yathrakkarude Shradhakku jokingly said about the amplification of things in Tamil movies, Maara also has that exaggeration. Still, luckily it doesn’t become a burden for the film.
Paaru is a wanderlust character who doesn’t like the idea of arranged marriage. After her brother’s wedding, she ran away from her home to Kochi to get an escape from her mother, who was forcing her to get married. In Kochi, she ended up living in an apartment that was owned by another crazy hippy guy named Maaran. The things she found there made her curious about this person and Paaru’s journey to find Maara through the anecdotes of many people is what we see in this Dhilip Kumar movie.
Charlie is one movie that is on my repeat watch list for its feel-good factor. And the reason for that what I feel is that Charlie’s character is still a mystery for us. Unni R hasn’t tried to tell us who he was, how he became this person, why he is attached to certain people etc., in that movie. But in the case of Maara, there are so many explanations happening. We are shown the childhood of Maara and Paaru to establish some sort of a divine link. There is a back story to Velayya- Maara relationship (Dulquer-Nedumudi track). Yes, certain parts of that did give me that Gooseflesh, but somewhere I felt this lack of mystery around the characters reduced that repeat watch charm of the movie. You get to see Maara explaining his process, whereas someone like Charlie always hid his thoughts in a burst of loud laughter.
Adaptation will be the better word here rather than calling Maara a remake. Bipin and Dhilip Kumar have rewritten the story to give it a different look. There are multiple backstories here about major and minor characters. And there is a major role swap towards the end, which I liked as it provided a little more intimacy between the lead pair. But the film inclines to be overly emotional. The spontaneity associated with the hero of the Malayalam version is replaced with emotional vulnerability. The visuals here are vibrant and offer the kind of mood it wants to set. Even though it isn’t as musical as Charlie in terms of treatment, I enjoyed the tunes made by Ghibran. If Charlie wowed Tessa by creating an apartment full of unique creations, Maara did the same by creating graffitis across the whole street (typical Tamil hero), and that offered Ajayan Challissery a space to show off his talent.
The interpretation of the makers and the performance by Madhavan of Maara doesn’t have the charm element. Maara feels more like a guy who has seen a lot and doesn’t get excited that quickly. The natural grace of Madhavan works in favor of the movie in the earlier portions, while towards the end, his performance was becoming a bit too dramatic. Shraddha Srinath as Paaru was wonderful to watch. The eagerness was evident in her eyes, and she portrayed the delicate side of Paaru in a very nuanced way. In terms of footage also, I think the movie has given her a bit more prominence, and her performance stays with you. Moulee as Velayya was casual and memorable. Sshivada as Kani was fine, but you won’t feel a significance for that character the way it felt in the original.
Watching Maara is like imagining certain different possibilities in a movie like Charlie. They have kept the soul of the Malayalam movie and made a film that has their interpretations. The drop in the pleasant aura is definitely a major missing here. But yet Maara manages to be a pleasing one time watch because of the highly emotional treatment.
The drop in the pleasant aura is definitely a major missing here. But yet Maara manages to be a pleasing one time watch because of the highly emotional treatment.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended