Soulless Crime Drama
What Is the Film About?
Gandhi Mahaan (Vikram) is the son of a Gandhi ideologist. His father and forefathers have fought the liquor ban. Mahaan from such an illustrious family becoming a liquor baron is a primary plot. What are the problems he faces on the way, and how does it affect him and his friendship with Sathyan (Bobby Simha)?
Dada (Dhruv Vikram) is Mahaan’s son. How is the relationship between him and Mahaan? How their thread begins and ends is the overall plot.
Mahaan is Vikram’s new film after a long gap. It is not just the movies, but also a role that presents him ‘normally’ after a while. It is a straightforward action drama (that is also not a low-key one like Sketch or 10 Endrathukalla) without any gimmicks looks-wise. The bottom line is it is good to see him in a real mass swag avatar since what can be termed eternity.
Vikram, as always, gives his best shot and is super effective. The intensity is present throughout, which make the action and emotions work. Many scenes highlight his dramatic potential, but the one’s in the second half stand out. The role of Mahaan is a treat for his fans and movie lovers, for sure. One has to give kudos to the director Karthik Subbaraj for bringing the actor’s ‘natural mass’ self to the fore.
Promising young talent Karthik Subbaraj directs Mahaan. It is a tale of father and son conflict. Usually, it’s the former who is on the right side who is against the latter on the wrong side. The director reverses the equations in Mahaan.
However, before the role reversal of Kondaveeti Simham (original Thanga Pathakam in Tamil) happens, there is an hour dedicated to the rise of Gandhi Mahaan as liquor baron, the mastermind behind the syndicate that rules the state.
After a brief establishment of the characters back story in typical Karthik Subbaraj style, an entire hour is dedicated to the rise of Gandhi Mahaan as Mahaan. The whole stretch is an example of broader strokes with no depth, lazy writing and convenient plotting.
One might as well have simply cut to a few years later and established Mahaan as the big thing. But, few plantings are needed to drive the second half. It is why despite all the issues, one has to bear with the whole segment.
The narrative picks some momentum once the father and son conflict begins in the second half. The speed breakers come in the form of long predictable, and repetitive moments. They could have been edited better.
The whole thing builds to the clash of the father and son, and that’s when a bigger connection with the film’s opening is made. While the director spells it out at the end, one can make it out much before. We see the Karthik Subbaraj touch and twist in the tale in these final chapters of the movie.
Despite an air of predictability (if one is cued with the director’s work), the gripping narrative holds the attention intermittently. But, the length and exhaustive feeling that sets in by that time don’t let out the full potential. The ending, therefore, is partially satisfactory, more so due to Vikram’s superlative act.
The message of extremism of different ideologies is good, but it isn’t conveyed well. It makes the first half all the more frustrating given the things Karthik Subbaraj tries to address here.
Overall. Mahaan has a flat and lackluster hour at the start. It makes up with some engaging moments in the last hour, but the final knockout punch is missing. It is a below-average fare with an excellent Vikram trying his best to hold things together. Give it a try for Vikram or if you love dramas with ideological conflicts.
Dhruv Vikram continues to be in his Adithya Varma mode. Only here, he is not a college student. He is fine, but whenever he is in front of his dad, the lack of experience is visible. Despite that, it is still good to see father and son together and them having a go at each other.
Bobby Simha, after a gap, gets a decent role in a Karthik Subbaraj film. He is fine playing a supporting part that has a few shades to enact. Vettai Muthukumar, as the third wheel in the cog, is okay. It is typically over the top politician part done alright. Sanath as Rocky is sincere and does the needed for the role. Simran seen after some gap is adequate. The rest of the actors playing bits and pieces parts are decent to forgettable depending on the particular moment.
Music and Other Departments?
Santhosh Narayanan’s music is good, with visuals attached. But, they are still a roadblock. Luckily, most are used as montages. The background score is lovely, as usual. Shreeyas Krishna’s cinematography lacks the distinct visual flair typically seen in Karthik Subbaraj’s movie. Given the nineties backdrop, much more could have been done. Vivek Harshan’s editing needed to be sharper. There is a pacing issue in the narrative. The writing has the Karthik Subbaraj’s mark, but it is increasingly getting muddled in critical moments.
Few Twists In Second Half
First Half (After Childhood Episode)
Did I Enjoy It?
Yes, In Parts
Will You Recommend It?
Yes, But With Huge Reservations
Mahaan Movie Review by Siddartha Toleti