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Maaveeran - Meta-masala done well

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Madonne Ashwin’s debut 2021 National Award winning film ‘Mandela’ was received warmly by critics and audiences alike. The Yogi Babu starring satire deftly explored themes of identity and politics without compromising artistic sensibility. For his follow-up feature, Ashwin teams up with Sivakarthikeyan for the satisfying meta-masala film ‘Maaveeran.’ This is a return to form for Sivakarthikeyan, whose recent two films 2022’s ‘Don’ and ‘Prince’ failed to live up to the quality of 2021’s ‘Doctor.’

The film follows Sivakarthikeyan’s cowardly Sathya, an aspiring comic strip writer/illustrator who believes the best motto to adhere to is ‘adjust and get by.’ Sathya is manipulated into relocating from his living space into a newbuild block of apartments alongside his fellow dwellers. This new habitat is not the haven it seems to be, bringing with it a plethora of its own issues. An accident leads to Sathya attaining a superpower, centering him as the protagonist of the narrative and pitting him up against politician MN Jeyakodi (played by Myskkin). 

The film works very well as a meta-masala. Through the concept of the omniscient narrator (voiced by Vijay Sethupathi), Ashwin elevates what could have been a run-of-the-mill action film into a more nuanced look at the current state of the Tamil film industry. Ashwin must be lauded for handling the film in a way that the idea is not used as a gimmick, but instead begins to break down the Tamil industry formula. The narrator naturally gives way to comedy, which is also enacted tastefully. There are also some nicely choreographed and shot action setpieces.

The acting performances all deserve praise. Sivakarthikeyan plays the role of the reluctant hero Sathya with ease. Yogi Babu is fantastic as ‘Patchwork’ Kumar, a cowboy builder who signs a deal with the devil. The great script allows Yogi Babu to shine through his usual sardonic delivery. Myskkin’s aptly cartoonish demon Jeyakodi fits the story well. Saritha, as Sathya’s perpetually frustrated mother, turns in a great performance too. Aditi Shankar as the love interest Nila, is the actress’s second role following last year’s Viruman, and is one of the few criticisms for the film. Shankar performs the role well, but the character seems important in the first act, but soon disappears into the background. Perhaps this is a nod to the seemingly expendable nature of female leads in masala films.

Although Bharath Sankar’s soundtrack is mostly standard fare, his work on the background score should be appreciated in aiding to tell the story more effectively. 

Overall, ‘Maaveeran’ is an entertaining film; it has the usual blend of what the Tamil audience loves about the masala formula, with a twist to the tale which elevates the narrative. With his second film, Aswhin cements his position as a director with staying power and someone to look out for. If you enjoyed this film, I would recommend Aswin’s debut ‘Mandela.’

Krishna's rating: 3.5 stars


Official trailer for film below.

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