Rakesh's movie talk
Maaran (2002)

Home | Movie Reviews | Movie talk | Film Personalities | Misc Articles | Contact Me | Tamil Time

Directed by A. Jawahar
Written by A. Jawahar
Starring Sathyaraj, Seetha, Raghuvannan, Robert and Delhi Ganesh


I have always received negative response when I tell others that in Tamil film industry, of the living leading stars, the best in acting is Kamal, followed by Rajini. The third place, a special place, is reserved for Sathyaraj. I said reserved because of his inconsistency in choosing the right roles. Naturally, every one laughs at that thought itself.

"Sathyaraj? You must be joking."

"He gets to my nerve with that sarcastic dialogues of his. They are not funny at all," says one. But it did make me laugh. In fact, those dialogues sounded funnier coming from Sathyaraj. That's okay. Probably I am not as intelligent as they are.

"He copies M.G.R," says another quarter. They are not wrong. Somewhere in nineties, he started adapting M.G.R gimmicks for his song sequence. To make matters worse, he even made himself up to look like M.G.R. But not in all films. This usually occurs in song sequence. And if the directors allow that, it must be on their insistence, as Sathyaraj is not known to be rebelious with directors.

There are other complaints. But it is sad. It is sad that these complainants have forgotten the real talent in this guy. Watch the early villain roles, and masterpieces like Kadamai Kanniyam Kattupadu, Amaithi Padai, Veerapathakam, Palaivana Rojakkal, Kadalora Kavithaigal and Vetham Puthithu. The latter especially is role that seemed to have been written specifically to suit his talent. Such brilliance. In fact, in the earlier villain roles, he had several times stolen the show right under the nose of the big stars like Kamal and Rajini. Who can forget the bad guy in Kakkichattai and Mr. Barath? Unfortunately, his height, size, muscles, and superb timing for comedy is misunderstood and has since been exploited in wrong movies, in wrong way.

But now, I'm rejoicing. He finally found a role he can sink his teeth into. Unfortunately it was only he and a bunch of supporting characters who relished every minute of their onscreen collaboration. Every other department did not do their job as required in this could-have-been good movie.

Maaran is an old wine in a not so new bottle. The theme is revenge and vigilantism that was popular in the eighties, especially in Rajini movies. Sathyaraj was in the other side of the fence at that time. Here, the same theme is applied on a premise based on a real incident. A student is ragged mercilessly before he his killed and chopped up by his senior when the former angered the latter. The buildup of hostility is there and is often remindful of scenes in Nammavar, In fact, newcomer Robert looks and performs like Karan from that movie. But the murder seems to lack plausible motives. Hell, some murders just happen anyway.

So the father of the dead student is Sathyaraj and he takes revenge. Sathyaraj plays this character (of the title name) with restrain. Remember, like Sivaji, he is known for the loudness, or may I say, over-acting. Get these flamboyant actors to control themselves and the result is great. Here he plays a character of his own age. An ageing father, grey hair and all. This will shut the many mouth which have always been complaining about old heroes. Somehow they are repellent to heroes ageing forty and above. Here Sathyaraj looks the age. That is his face. His body will put the likes of Ajith or Vijay to shame. So, when he does a fight scene, he looks convincing. Any old dude with THAT body can fight, brother!

Sathyaraj is one of the few actors who really know how to use their eyes. In fact, only Kamal and Rajini can use them well for acting purposes. Here, it is THE tool for an amazing range of emotions he had to go through as the father of the mutilated son. You got to see it to understand what I am talking about.

There is one scene, which is not specifically significant but is a showoff of his power in acting department. Some bad guys will come to attack him in the market, but before they could do anything, Maran's boss meets him there and urges him to get into his car. Maran gets in and as the car moves away, we see his face, especially his eyes, over the half-open window. It was eye of a caged animal, determined to break out and pounce on its victim. That is Sathyaraj.

Apart from him, the supporting actors did so-and-so job. This movie is advertised, one, for Sathyaraj's non-stereotypical role and Two, for Seethas comeback. Nothing much, but she seemed to have forgotten that over-acting is a no-no these days. Thirdly, it is also the film that introduces Raguvannan, son of director/comedian Manivannan. Well, this guy is not much. I dont think that he will ever be big in the industry, but we shall see. Delhi Ganesh is in mainly as a comedian. Or so I think. But he is fine. He can do a better job if his lines are funnier. So would Haniffa who appears as bumbling CBI officer. His talent seemed to be of waste here. There are moments of his which seem to suggest that the role was written for Janagaraj, to reprise his cop role in Apoorva Saghotharargal.

The only reason you should watch the second half of this movie is Sathyaraj. Most of the scenes here are horrible. The revenge methods are either too simple or simply outrageous. It does not help that at this point, the director/writer Jawahar wanted to portray Sathyaraj as some sort of superhero. It doesn't mesh with the somber family values. In the beginning Maran is a follower of Gandhi and he turns to violence. This theme is not explored properly. The message at the end is about school ragging, not on violence or capital punishment or the real meaning of independence.

Plenty of characters are introduced in prominence and then left hanging, such as the boy's girlfriend, fate of whom is never told. Maran's wife and daughter is sent off to Old Folks home and a Christian hostel conveniently so that the audience need not know what had happened to them while Maran goes around killing bad guys, Somehow I have a suspicious feeling that the financiers and distributors wrote the second half of the script.

Those entire complaints aside, I love this movie. I will watch it again with a finger on the fast-forward button. Why? It makes me proud to say that I am a Sathyaraj fan.