Cast: Dhanush, Kajal Aggarwal, Vijay Yesudas
Director: Balaji Mohan
Balaji Mohan's Maari has been written and scripted for Dhanush. Or, so it seems. Son-in-law of Tamil superstar Rajinikanth, Dhanush is often seen in Maari copying the older man's mannerisms. Watch out the way he smokes the cigarette or flicks it across the air. Watch out the way, he delivers his dialogues. How often have we seen it all in Rajinikanth.
Essaying a local rowdy, Maari, Dhanush is indeed cut out for the character. His lean physique and unimpressive looks lend themselves to an anti-social element who lives by demanding his "hafta" from shopkeepers and generally playing "dada". When Kajal Aggarwal's Sridevi sets up a boutique in Maari land -- a lowly Chennai locality -- he demands not just "protection money" but also a share in her profits. "We are partners", he tells a hapless Sridevi -- who despite all the humiliation and harassment she faces from him, begins to get fond him. Sometimes, it gets pretty difficult to just suspend disbelief in a Tamil movie; one has to perhaps stop thinking at all!
With a cop, Vijay Yesudas as Arjun in uniform, challenging Maari on his turf, the pendulum begins to swing wildly from what is righteous to what is absolutely no no. In a scenario such as this, why would any decent girl gravitate towards Maari and not Arjun. It foxes me the way stories are written in Indian cinema.
Yesudas appears too conscious of his dashing good looks to sink into a policeman out to cleanse the rotten area -- where Maari breeds and nurtures pigeons for racing. Huge money is involved, and in some ways, he conveys the impression that he is no less than the rich Arabs whose passion for falcons is well known. But Maari's faded lungi and vest snatch us out of this fancy picture.
Yes, Dhanush has to guts to play a man with many shades of grey, his looks blending with the character. Perhaps, he knows that it may not be easy for him to be the conventional hero. But this is the hero the masses appear to adore, and the film cherishes and celebrates the anti-social in society -- a disturbing trend though in Tamil cinema.
Read other film reviews here