Maharathi Succeeds in Giving Jolts Now and Then, But Lacks to Deliver the Knockout Punch
By Movie Talkies, 05 December 2008
Maharathi is a refreshing film, in that it has an original story and screenplay. It is an adaptation of a famous Gujarati play written by Uttam Gada. It seems that actor Paresh Rawal was very keen to make it into a film, and is one of the driving forces behind this film. The other thing that Maharathi has going for it is its stellar cast. It has the likes of Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Paresh Rawal and Boman Irani in it, and they all are in fine form in the film. A thriller by genre, Maharathi has a very interesting plotline; the screenplay too seems to move well, except towards the end, which seems very hurried. The film does not wrap up very interestingly and thus in the final analysis, seems to lack punch.
One of the best things about the film is that the audience is not privy to all the information, and thus it succeeds in giving a nice jolt now and then. In the hands of a more masterly director, it could have been quite a thriller. However, this is not to put down director Shivam Nair.
The film's story revolves around Subhash (Paresh Rawal), a struggler, who has been trying to get into the movies for almost a decade. One night, he saves the life of a man, Mr Adenwalla (Naseer) and helps him back home. The very grateful Adenwalla hires him as his driver and actually feels very close to him, a fact which is resented by his young wife Mallika (Neha Dhupia). Subhash is well aware of this fact. Gradually, he manages to entrench himself in Adenwalla's house and heart. Adenwalla, a once famous filmmaker, who has fallen into hard times, is sick to death of his greedy wife. He hatches a plot and takes the ultimate revenge on her when he commits suicide in front of her and Subhash. He had insured his life for Rs 24 crore but she can only claim it if she can prove that his suicide is a murder. After Adenwalla's death, Subhash senses that fate has given him a chance to make something of his life. Hence, he plots with Mallika to prove that Adenwalla was murdered, with the understanding that they will share the loot equally. The duo decides to get a third person into the house so that they can have another witness. They enlist the help of Mr Adenwalla's lawyer, Merchant (Boman) in this and hire a caretaker (Tara Sharma). The plan is to keep up the pretence that Adenwalla is still alive, so that they have time to plot his so called ‘murder.' But things go haywire and Mallika is found dead. The cops enter the scene, along with ACP Gokhale (Om Puri) and the plot finally unravels. But Subhash manages to save himself, with the help of his wits and quick thinking.
The plot, like we said, is very interesting. In fact, in parts, some of the film's sequences are quite brilliant, specially the ones featuring Paresh Rawal and Boman Irani. The actors are, of course, brilliant. And that is what saves the film. But there is a lot of confusion in the movie, especially in the final sequences when Subhash manages to save himself and implicate Merchant. Motives are not exactly clear. What is interesting, however, is the manner in which Subhash manages to wriggle out of the disaster.
Since the movie moves at a very brisk pace, one somehow is not greatly bothered by it. But these questions do remain. The unraveling at the end of a thriller is very important. But Maharathi seems to stumble at this point. Also there is a sting in the tale, provided by Tara Sharma's character, but it is somehow not startling enough. A little wasted, one felt.
The director could have paid a little more attention to the smaller details in the plot and the screenplay. Barring that, the film has good production values. The cinematography is good, without any unnecessary frills, unlike what one would expect in a typically shot Hindi thriller film. Even the background music is not overpowering. Nothing takes away from the action and the actors in Maharathi, no songs, nothing. Nair deserves kudos for that. There is a song in the end, but it comes only with the credits and seems more like a promotional number.
Naseer's character is bumped of within the first half hour of the movie. But the master actor creates an impact with his charismatic presence. Om Puri is there for a very little while as well, but he too leaves an impact with his natural style of acting. The two are a study in contrasts, with Naseer being all flamboyance and Om, more earthy and natural. Neha Dhupia as the greedy wife is competent and so is Tara Sharma as the simple caretaker. The real acting honors in the film, however, are shared by Paresh Rawal and Boman Irani, both of who deliver seamless performances.
Maharathi is an interesting film, well acted and replete with some brilliant oneliners by Paresh Rawal's character. It has almost everything going for it but lacks the ability to deliver a knockout punch at the box office.