Abrid Shine has always chosen themes that were unique for his movies. His new movie, Mahaveeryar, starring Nivin Pauly and Asif Ali, is a wacky fantasy that gets a satirical treatment with political layers. While it does hold your interest with its fantasy element and political statements, there is a sense of vagueness in some aspects of the screenplay. That somewhere limits the movie from being a completely absorbing experience.
A Sanyasi named Apoornananthan is our central protagonist. He gets involved in a theft case when he arrives at a temple in Kerala. While he was defending his case, something supernatural happened; a king and his disciples from another timeline appeared at the court seeking punishment for some disciples who didn’t follow the king’s order. The facts and verdict of that case shape the soul of Mahaveeryar.
The idea is definitely fascinating. And looking at the filmography of Abrid Shine, one can understand why he opted for this project. It is a subject that can use humor to engage the audience as there is that cultural and democratic conflict among the characters. The screenplay has used that scope to a great extent to make the conversations engaging for the viewer. But towards the end, one would expect a perfect closure to the whole case, which was missing. Everyone inside that court got blended into the unprecedented event way too quickly. In this first watch, I wasn’t clear why Apoornananthan wanted to drag that case into this setting.
In terms of relevance, the core conflict of the movie that deals with one’s loyalty to the country make Mahaveeryar pretty exciting at one point. The confident arguments of the king can make you understand why some of the present ruler’s mentality is autocratic. But again, that lack of clarity in where the movie stands will bother you. The absence of Apoornananthan for a significant part of the second half kind of takes away the juice from the film. Towards the last half an hour, the movie fluctuates highly, and it gradually distances itself from that satiric space.
Abrid Shine reduces the dramatic tone of the movie smartly in the second half. The visual perspective in the first half is somewhat similar to his Action Hero Biju. But the visual composition changes subtly in the second half. The production design aspects aren’t flashy and feel more believable. Even the visual effects are used minimally to enhance that particular moment.
As performers, both Nivin Pauly and Asif Ali look convincing, and the performances are also lovely. But my favorites in the movie were the veterans. Lal, Lalu Alex, and Sidhique were the actors who delivered the most entertaining performances in the film. While Lalu Alex got his share in the small first half, the initial portions of the second half were dominated by an audible Lal. The performance of Sidhique as the judge in that last quarter was my favorite performance, and he was able to make a bizarre scenario look genuinely funny. Shanvi Srivastava, with her looks, fits the description of the character.
I am a sucker for wacky stuff, so Mahaveeryar didn’t disappoint me. If you are someone who roots for a half-baked experiment over a safe bet formulaic entertainer, I would say Mahaveeryar won’t disappoint you. If it had a bit more clarity in writing, this imagination from Abrid Shine would have been a perfect blend of fantasy and politics.
If you are someone who roots for a half-baked experiment over a safe bet formulaic entertainer, I would say Mahaveeryar won't disappoint you.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended