Maara on Amazon Prime Video: Madhavan and Shraddha Srinath are all charm in a good-hearted, if overlong, romance

Posted on January 8, 2021

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The beauty of this fable, based on ‘Charlie’, is how much of a love story it is, and yet how it’s not really the love story of the “hero” and the “heroine”.

Spoilers ahead…

Maara is based on Charlie (2015), which Martin Prakkat directed and co-wrote with Unni R. The director, Dhilip Kumar (I wrote a short film for him once), said in a Film Companion interview that he’s made an adaptation, not a remake. I don’t recall Charlie all that well, but if memory serves me right, the broad beats in Maara are the same and yet, the specifics are different. The story is the kind of magical fable that makes you think what Anurag Basu would have made of it. And the template is essentially that of a treasure hunt, except that the pot of gold at the end is replaced by an insanely charming man (Dulquer Salmaan in the original, R Madhavan here), from whom the film takes its name.

This casting, I think, is crucial. Charlie/Maara is off-screen for large chunks of time, and yet, you need the sense of him from start to finish. You need an actor who’s funny and charming, someone whose smile and eye-twinkle make Paru’s search worthwhile. Like Dulquer, Madhavan checks all these boxes, and then some — because what he brings to this movie is not just his performance here but his screen history playing smiling, twinkle-eyed charmers in his youth. (Maara is middle-aged, and Madhavan sports a beard  seasoned with as much salt as pepper.) Shraddha Srinath plays Paru. She’s the determined treasure hunter, and like in Charlie (where Parvathy Thiruvothu played the part), the casting made me smile. These two actors are often called to embody stern, no-nonsense women — and how nice to see them as die-hard romantics, who prefer fairy-tale magic to real-life logic!

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