Maryan – Poseidon approves

Maryan is a “man who never dies”. The initial posturing of the film makes it seem like this is another one of those irritating superhero in real life, punchline-laden macho-man mess of a movie. It almost falls prey to it. Parvathy, and Danush, save it from becoming a mess. But only just. 

Maryan is a love story. It’s epic in its conception, if not in execution. Bharatbala has the eye of a master. I haven’t watched many tamil films of late, but this is the most gorgeous tamil film I have seen in a while. Bharatbala has an established credibility as a  wonderful music video director, with his wonderful inspiring video for Vande Mataram. With Maryan, he has decided to go the Michel Gondry way. The inventiveness may be missing, but no mistaking the heart of the story. 

I don’t think anyone doubts that Danush is one of the most talented actor in the country right now. In the hands of a lesser talent, this movie would have suffered. The movie still does, but it’s no fault of Danush’s. I was pleasantly surprised by an extremely strong performance by the female lead, Parvathy. Far too often, love stories have been marred by poorly written female leads, or poorly acted. In this case, kudos to the team for bringing a strong character so wonderfully acted by Parvathy. The love comes through in all of their scenes together. 

Now, having created a perfect, endearing, dreamy, fierce couple, how do you create a powerful love story? You create a villain you desperately want to despise and destroy. As with all superhero film, a vile villain is as important as a superhero you can love (Man of Steel challenged this, but that’s for a different post). Maryan needed a villain we hated, and all we got were caricatures. Theekkurisi, as the typical local lecher, the African pirates, who do not do much more than wear a skull around their necks and shout and shoot. 

It could be argued that the elements of nature are the real villains here, and the African pirates are little more than diversions/plot elements/macguffins. The story is about Maryan finding his true love. The Sea. The sea is what gives him power. The sea is what makes him a superhero. The desert is his kryptonite. How does this man struggle through the desert and find his true love? This reading makes the movie seem that much more romantic. Danush’s acting really does seem to indicate this to be the case. He was invincible when he was near the sea. The gruff beard, the “empty ground” of a heart. He was completely in command. When he is in Africa, the beard is gone. He is at the beck and call of his employers away from his love. The Sea and Pani (Parvathy). (Never has Panimalar as a name for the lover been more appropriate). 

I started this post wanting to diss the movie, because it gave me a headache, and now I’ve seemingly ended up praising it. There are many parts of the film which irritated me, but there are many scenes which are absolutely poetic. I wish Tamil film directors didn’t fall prey to the trope of having a “comedian wiseguy sidekick”, and then you have to take the trouble to write them off, which is done very poorly in this film. Why have them in the first place? 

Maryan might be a film that might stay with me. Bharatbala knows how to use close-ups, and there are plenty of them. He has a K Balachander-esque ability to make actors speak with their eyes. The climax also happens to have some of the best acting from the female lead. 

 

You should watch it. 

 

 

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