Maharaja Review: A Shocking Twist, A Gripping Drama

Movie: Maharaja
Rating: 3/5
Passion Studios
Cast: Vijay Sethupathi, Anurag Kashyap, Natty (Natraj), Bharathiraja, Abhirami, Mamta Mohandas, Singampuli, Aruldoss and others
Dialogues: Vasanth
Music: B Ajaneesh Loknath
DOP: Dinesh Purushothaman
Editor: Kodati Pavan Kalyan
Production Designer: V. Selvakumar
Stunt Director: Anl Arasu
Producers: Sudhan Sundaram, Jagadish Palanisamy
Written and Directed by: Nithilan Saminathan
Release Date: June 14, 2024

Vijay Sethupathi’s 50th movie, Maharaja, has been dubbed into Telugu under the same name. Though it didn't receive much initial hype, the film garnered interest among movie lovers with its trailer.

Let’s explore its merits and demerits.

Maharaja (Vijay Sethupathi), a barber, lives with his teenage daughter Jyothi in Chennai's suburbs. One day, Maharaja goes to the police station and asks them to find their stolen 'Lakshmi', which was taken away from their home during a burglary. Readmore!

In Maharaja's life, "Lakshmi," a rusted iron dustbin, holds a special place because it saved Jyothi from a fatal accident that killed his wife.

Police laugh at Maharaja when he tells them that thieves stole a dustbin worth Rs 300 but nothing else. They initially labeled him as a mad guy for approaching them to find the dustbin, but they consider the situation serious when he offers to bribe the Inspector with lakhs of rupees if the culprit is found.

Police begin their investigation, believing that Maharaja must have hidden an important document or large sums of money in the dustbin. When they finally find the culprit, they discover a shocking truth that shakes everyone.

What's the shocking twist? Why did Maharaj agree to pay the police so much money to find the dustbin?

Artistes’ Performances:
Vijay Sethupathi has delivered many exceptional performances throughout his career. Additionally, he portrayed the role of a father to a young girl in the Telugu film Uppena. In Maharaja, he takes on a complex role, being both a father to a teenage girl and a man determined to uncover the identity of the person responsible for stealing his 'Lakshmi'. His subtle and intricate performance, combined with his intense outbursts during crucial scenes, evokes strong emotional responses.

Anurag Kashyap's portrayal of the antagonist may seem a bit unusual at first, but his performance becomes truly gripping as the film progresses.

Sachana Nemidas delivers a solid performance as Vijay Sethupathi's daughter.

Natty, as the police inspector, and Abhirami, as Anurag Kashyap's wife, are commendable in their roles.

Technical Excellence:
The technical aspects of the film are equally excellent. Ajaneesh Loknath's background score elevates the film to a higher level.

While the film lacks traditional songs, Ajaneesh compensates with his captivating background music.

The editing is concise, and the production design is satisfactory.

Terrific Screenplay
Vijay Sethupathi’s performance
Emotional connection
Climax episode

Some contrived scenes
Disturbing violence on women

Maharaja marks the 50th film in Vijay Sethupathi's career, and he has chosen a story and screenplay befitting this significant milestone.

Recently, we have seen exceptional thrillers, particularly from the Malayalam film industry, such as Mohanlal's Drishyam and Iratta. However, Maharaja does not present itself as a thriller.

Throughout the film, the director skillfully keeps the audience's full attention by withholding clues about the film's direction until the final act.

Maharaja serves as an exemplary illustration of how to craft a captivating screenplay. At its core, it is a revenge drama, but it also explores deeper emotional themes, maintaining suspense until the very end.

It is exceedingly challenging for a critic to discuss this film without revealing spoilers. Much of the first half focuses on Vijay Sethupathi's unwavering determination to locate the stolen dustbin and his interactions with the police.

Like the police officers in the story, the audience infers that the protagonist is not genuinely searching for the dustbin. Instead, he is likely devising a plan to uncover the truth or identify those responsible for causing him great harm.

The brilliance of director Nithilan Saminathan's non-linear screenplay lies in its ability to keep us from anticipating Vijay Sethupathi's true intentions.

The director introduces key characters early on but withholds the central plot until the latter part of the film. The convergence of plot points occurs in the final act, where all threads, including the burglars, the police, Vijay Sethupathi's life, and the initial accident, come together to unveil some startling truths in the climax.

The film also addresses unsettling subject matter.

Maharaja is presented as a thriller, but it is primarily an emotionally driven narrative. The emotional aspect and sentiment of the story are more impactful than the thriller elements. Additionally, the film accurately depicts the police system and its operations.

The film has shortcomings, such as instances of contrived writing and situations, as well as certain portions that tend to prolong unnecessarily. The subplot involving Mamta Mohandas is poorly written. However, these flaws do not significantly affect the film’s flow.

Overall, Maharaja is a screenplay-focused emotional thriller. While it lacks the typical commercial elements one might expect from such stories, those who appreciate skillfully crafted thrillers and emotionally charged dramas centered around the relationship between a father and daughter will find it watchable.

Bottom Line: Emotional Barber

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