The visual effects of Marakkar Arabikadalinte Simham are really good, and the background score from Rahul Raj is terrific. But the foundation of any good film is its screenplay. That aspect of Marakkar Arabikadalinte Simham is all over the place. A movie that was depicted as the story of a freedom fighter, who was a naval commander, felt more like a Romeo and Juliet tale with minimal emphasis on the sea. With a crowded screenplay that has too many characters, Marakkar is an exhausting story with zero exciting moments.
Kunjali belonged to the Marakkar family, who were traditionally the naval commander in chiefs of the Zamorins. But a particular fight with the Portuguese made them realize the dark side of war, and they decided to stop serving the king and earned a living through trade. We see in Marakkar the story of the fourth generation Marakkar who became a Robin Hood figure due to circumstances. His rise and involvement in those earlier days of resistance against foreign invasion are what we witness in this Priyadarshan movie.
Authenticity and historical accuracy are pretty much out of the question here. From costume designs and production design, one can easily sense that Kunjali Marakkar and his story is mere inspiration for this largely flashy Robin Hood tale. I don’t mind seeing that as long as the writer creates moments that would be memorable for the viewer. Co-written by Ani IV Sasi along with Priyadarshan, Marakkar is emotionally flat. They want to depict the tragedies that happened in Marakkar’s life as unfortunate. But the writing is so superficial that you won’t feel bad for any of those characters on screen. The much-boasted CGI works of the sea happen over a really short span of time. The Arabikadal in the title might have felt left out after seeing the whole movie.
When he smiles, walks, and dances, Mohanlal has the grace to be a warrior. But the slang is a problem. His dialogues start with the usual Valluvanadan style and abruptly jump into this stereotypical Muslim slang filled with Khalb, Chunk, Sheythan, etc. It is hard not to cringe at that. No offense to his flexibility, but the rope lifting is easily sensible in some of the visuals, and Ayyappan Nair’s cuts weren’t enough to hide those flaws. A performance that I feel everyone might have unanimously liked in this film must be the one by Hareesh Peradi as Mangattachan. Siddique as Pattu Marakkar was memorable. Late actor Nedumudi Venu has got an extensive role here as the Samoothiri. With their physique, Suniel Shetty and Arjun Sarja help the movie a lot in having some believability. Ashok Selvan gets that typical loud villain character. Pranav Mohanlal exhibits his parkour skills in bits. Everyone else in the cast is either cameos or extended cameos.
In a recent interview, Mohanlal had said that this idea of Marakkar came after Kalapani when he and Priyadarshan decided that they should do an even bigger film someday. I remember seeing the visual of Mohanlal carrying those piles of dead bodies on an old TV screen and feeling extremely uncomfortable. Here, we have a similar scene in Marakkar where a Portuguese officer steps on a pile of dead bodies. But the scene created zero impact on an emotional level. From Kalapani to Marakkar, they might have managed to increase the budget and the use of technology. But somewhere in that transition, craft got lost.
I think the writing of this movie depended too much on the CGI and production design to cover up its shallowness. The outdated trope of people being furious and doing stuff without bothering to ask what really happened is used on multiple occasions in this film. In the film, Marakkar realizes that he killed someone without knowing what really happened. And he asks his uncle, “why didn’t you tell me earlier?” The response to that from his uncle created an unintentionally funny moment almost similar to the Kanji dialogue in Odiyan. Thiru’s cinematography definitely helps the movie depict the scale. There are some striking frames in the film, the interval block being my favorite.
Priyadarshan has paid homage to his own iconic scenes in this movie. In one scene, Samoothiri gets possessed by Swathi Thirunal for a short while, and we have the famous Muthugavvu pot scene in a different avatar. The lack of a solid script with captivating moments is the major demerit of this Priyadarshan movie. Even after having quality visual effects, great background score, commendable production design, and a pool of talented actors, Marakkar felt like a dull movie. Since both Odiyan and Marakkar had elements that supported superstitions, I have a suggestion. Don’t make Manju Warrier serve any food to Mohanlal in movies, especially during the month of December.
With a crowded screenplay that has too many characters, Marakkar is an exhausting story with zero exciting moments.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended