Readers Write In #324: Maara is effervescent enough, but the filmmakers should have retained Parvathy Thiruvoth as Paaru

Posted on January 11, 2021

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(by Alex John)

We are witnessing an anomalous phenomenon. Maara, the remake of the 2015 Malayalam film Charlie is released on Amazon prime, and those who haven’t seen it must believe it, the film is, if only marginally, better than its original version! We all know how much remakes are hated, not just in our country, but all over the world. The ongoing trend of adapting one language films into another is vexatious enough to warrant activism against it. Just like unsafe sex, or the use of plastic. Remakes usually lose the soul of the original film in translation, but Maara didn’t, because the makers of that film thankfully created one of its own instead of trying transplant the essence of the original. Having an impeccably chosen cast made things easier on them as some of those actors delivered their career best performance so far, especially Alexander Babu, Sshivada, and Moulee. Okay, having blown the film’s trumpet loud enough, did I find something going against it? Yes, that’s what I am going to talk about. So, let me do a point-by point analysis on why I think Shraddha Srinath wasn’t up to the expectations and the filmmakers should have retained Parvathy Thiruvoth as the vivacious chaser of the mysterious Maara.

Better command over the language.

Does it matter even if your voice is dubbed over? I believe so. Any doubt? See those monstrous Hindi language films Mahanlal has acted in the 2000s, and you’ll know why the thespian was dubbed as a ‘fine actor’ by the Bollywood critics. Not their fault, as he was struggling with his lines and delivering blank emotions a lot while trying to remember his lines, as is the case with Shraddha Srinath in Maara. She is a good actress and did a few Tamil movies in the past, but we clearly sense her talking to herself quite often, especially in the emotional scenes. Parvathy is non-Tamilian too, but being a Keralite clearly gives her the advantage of a better acquaintance with the language, which is clearly evident in her Tamil films. This would make the character much more interesting as Maara is not your regular mass market stuff where you have a heroine as a filler between your hero’s shenanigans, but is actually the tale of a girl who is determined to catch-up with the mystery-man who keeps evading her.

The childlike curiosity in Parvathy’s interpretation of the character.

I believe this is the best argument I have for Parvathy’s case. I mean, what girl goes on pursuit of a man just because she saw the bedtime story she was told painted on a wall?

Answer, no one. She did not start her pursuit because of the painting, but because that child in that bus never actually grew up. Think about what would have happened if the story telling woman had suddenly got up and left the bus. She definitely would have run after her until her folks could restrain her. How do you know that? I don’t, but I sense it, which exactly what Parvathy sensed and interpreted on screen. She had that wide-eyed naivety about her which made me understand why she is going after a man she has no real emotional connection with. Shraddha Srinath on the other hand, couldn’t shrug off that air of indifference and stoicism usually associated with her, and tried too hard to be that little girl which was rather confusing than endearing to me.

Parvathy is a better actor than Shraddha Srinath.

This is subjective of course, but I believe that if we choose their bodies of work as the exhibits for this argument, Parvathy clearly has an edge over Shraddha Srinath. Shraddha has had her moments in her rather short career, but not the seething intensity and presence Parvathy can bring on screen. And her acting range is definitely something to write home about. Watch her turn into the non-nonsense, level-headed nurse in ‘Take-off’ from the gullible princess in ‘Charlie’, and we can’t help but be in awe of the effortless aplomb with which she achieves this. I could clearly sense the difference towards the ending of Maara, which wouldn’t give me anything to feel about if it wasn’t for the reunion(?) of the elderly couple. In the similar reunion in Charlie, I felt for the younger couple more than I did for the elder one, just the way I would feel for a kid who runs after a snapped kite and finds it intact, not for the kite; thanks to the leads who got into the skin of their characters and delivered pitch-perfect performances. Give me a choice, and I would pick Parvathy for the role of that exuberant girl who goes in search of the man for almost no reason; any day for sure.

Maara could have given Parvathy a much desired entry to the Kollywood mass market.

Considering none of her Tamil films have done great business so far, Maara could have taken her acting chops to a much greater number of households, especially as the film has been released into an OTT platform. Recipient of a nation award-special mention and many state and other film awards, she would be a breath of fresh air in the uber-masculine Tamil film industry. Less expensive and more talented than those navel-flashing Mumbai imports, the likes of Parvathy will motivate filmmakers to write better scripts for female leads and for their films overall. But what do I say, those flashings get more attention than real talent, right? This was the case with the Malayalam industry too, a decade ago. Enter a handful of actors like Prithviraj and Parvathy and the standard of films in once utterly misogynistic industry has vastly improved and it is evident in the way Malayalam films are received all over the nation. It is what a savory mix of talent and attitude does to a film industry. I hope to see more of Parvathy Thiruvoth in mainstream Tamil films, which a surrealistic movie like Maara would have been a great start.to.

Having said all these, I do not intend to underrate an actor or her capabilities. I know Shraddha Srinath is a good actor and can outshine many of her peers on her day, but I felt that in Maara she was more of playing herself than finding that balance between a grown woman and the infinitely curious child inside her. Paravathy could, hence I wasn’t surprised when Tessa goes to a festival where tens of thousands of men gather, just to find her man among them. I can’t imagine the matter-of-fact Paaru doing that, and I was thankful I didn’t see that sequence in Maara.I am not even sure if the makers of Maara tried to rope-in Parvathy, but if they didn’t, they should have. Sorry team Maara, when I think of that impulsive young girl who fell in love with the protagonist, I still think of the original film’s heroine, not the actor of your choice. You were right about every other actor-choices, but I believe not this one. Or maybe it’s just me because

everyone else seems to be impressed by Shraddha Srinath’s performance, but I am clearly not. So again, maybe it’s just me, but with the aforementioned points, I rest my case.