What would happen if a film were adapted into a painting? “A painting requires a little mystery, some vagueness and some fantasy” goes a famous quote, Dhilip Kumar’s Maara ticks all these boxes. The mystery that Maara (Madhavan) is, the fantasy of the fable inside the story as well as in the story and bit of vagueness. The vagueness is intentional, for like a painting, Maara leaves room for the audience to interpret few bits on their own. Is the thief character a metaphor for the heart that was stolen in the story (cheesy, but this is still a fairy tale)? Or are Maara – Paaru supposed to be the happy ending of another love story that could not find its desired destiny?
Madhavan brings the M for mystery in the characterization of Maara. He also brings in the infectious charm of Maara. This is essential for audience to connect with this person that Paaru (Shradhha Srinath) goes in search of. Paaru works for in restoration of old building, here search for Maara ends up in the serendipitous restoration of an old love story. What unfurls in between is this gorgeous journey across beautiful landscape (the port, the hill and the connecting road). The cinematography of the film is a key USP that ensures that the movie feels like a painting on screen.
An all-encompassing painting that has elements of narration, abstraction – from frame to frame it switches seamlessly from symbolistic to emotive. The sub-plots in the movie, that Paaru discovers from Maara’s sketches create his impression of him but they also lend themselves for introductions of some interesting characters. Coincidentally all these sub-plots have journey in their design: rendezvous with Maara sets the key players in these subplots on a different and better path.
Apart from the leads, the supporting cast has some riveting performances in the characters of Vellaiya (Moulee) and Kani (Sshivada). Sshivada has a natural presence on screen that demands more deserving characterizations in the future. Popular stand-up comic, Alexander Babu plays a small-time thief with the right timing and desists going overboard like another trending Babu who normally fills in for these roles.
If every canvas has a journey of its own then Maara is painted with strokes from multiple journeys: The soldier’s journey to find his soul in the fable, Maara’s journey for someone else’s soul, Paru’s journey to seek Maara and Vellaiya’s own fairy tale-ish journey. Maara is an emotional and technical masterpiece that should appear in most exhibitions of best romantic movies in Tamil.
Captive of the 24 frames and admirer of the written word. If it is not on the silver screen or on the pages of a paperback, it might as well not exist.