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Maaveeran Is A Very Strange Sporadically Interesting Superhero Film




Maaveeran(Tamil,Streaming on Prime Video)

Starring Sivakarthikeyan, Aditi  Shankar, Mysskin

Directed  by Madonne Ashwin

Rating: ** ½ (two and a  half)

Maaveeran has some strong writing going into the  goofy satire   on corruption in high(rise) places.Even when the leading man  Sivakarthikeyan acquires superhero  powers in a freak accident(a  sort of Minnal  Murali with selfesteem issues)  and he starts hearing  voice  commanding him to do all kinds of heroic things,we are never  sure if this a case of sloppy satire or undetected  schizophrenia.

The  amusing irony is that no character in Maaveeran  would know what  ‘schizoprenia’  is or to how to spell it. The  sheer proletarianism of  the plot ,its disarming naivete, will  get the audience rooting for  the unassuming  characters.

Sivakarthikeyan is  not a  great actor  by any yardstick. Here,  he  doesn’t aspire to the heroics of  his colleagues in Tamil cinema like Vijay and Suriya routinely attempt. If we look for  a Bollywood equivalent  to  Sivakarthikeyan it would have to be Ayushmann Khurrana. They both fill a slot for the workingclass  hero who will never be a superhero even for  his loved ones.

  As a talented but struggling cartoonist Sivakarthikeyan’s Sathya is exploited or humiliated by everyone including his bullish mother who at one point  wishes she had no son rather than  coward  like Sathya. Sathya’s emotional thrashing continues right till the end as he battles governmental corruption with a superhero voice egging him on to stand up for the downtrodden,a task Sathya is grossly unequal to.

The writing is  remarkably self-mocking, as if to tell us that all the larger-than-life Jawaans, Pathans  and  Tara Singhs we cheer for are mere  illusions. Sathya  represents the  common man’s  agonizing helplessness. There  is  a sequence where  a goon walks in,  peeps into Sathya’s sister in the bathroom and saunters out of the house. Sathya rages  at the  humiliation. But returns beaten and heckled  after confronting the goon.

A  large  part of the ongoing drama seeks out the dormant valour in Sathya as he  is pitched against a monstrously  corrupt politician  Jeyakodi(Mysskin).A  superhero’s voice , a rousing aural  performance  by Vijay Sethupathi, guides Sathya  to take on  Jeyakodi and his goons.

  The  best chunks in the  innovative  though over-cocky  screenplay  are when the ‘voice’ guides Sathya during  physical  fights.These, and not the theatrical drama  on corruption, are the  central attraction in this potentially explosive film on  corruption and the  common man.

Maaveeran sets up a promising theme: a government sponsored highrise  for the poor  constructed so poorly  it can collapse any moment. But the  treatment of the theme is  stamped with theatrical  antics and characters , like the one played by that annoying omnipresent  comic relief  Yogi who plays a patchworker going around filling holes in the highrise.

Finally  it all seems more commendable for what it  attempts than what it achieves.At  least the fight against corruption doesn’t seem like a mockery of the middleclass.At least the hero is one of us.

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