02 Dec


Right from its announcement years ago, many including me had certain apprehensions about the Priyadarshan – Mohanlal film ‘Marakkar’. During the time of the shoot, it brought news almost every day and the trend continued till the day of its release. Like others, I too wanted the glimpse of Marakkar on the first day itself for umpteen reasons – being a Mohanlal starrer, hailed as Priyan’s magnum opus, the wide canvas of the film and many more. The expectations were sky-high because you won’t get to see Malayalam films made with such a grandeur every time. But to be honest, I felt that the film is a bit of a letdown though watchable. 

‘Marakkar’ begins on a promising note with the soothing lullaby “Kunju Kunjalikku” sung by the mellifluous K.S. Chithra. Soon the characters are introduced one after the other including the protagonist as young Kunjali played by Pranav Mohanlal. It was great to see the legendary auteur, Fazil appearing as Kutti Ali Marakkar during the initial part of the film. The scenes move at a leisurely pace as Priyan takes some time to establish the plot and characters. The splendidly shot song “Kannil ente” follows and the story takes a new turn since then. 

Pranav as Kunjali impresses in certain scenes and soon he paves way for the entry of Mohanlal as the elder one. Kunjali and his gang are presented as dacoits who hide in the forest. He fights for the underprivileged and establishes himself as a demigod among the masses. For the Zamorin and the Portuguese, Kunjali becomes the most-wanted criminal. Kunjali with the help of Pattu Marakkar (Siddique), Thangudu (Prabhu), Chinnali (Jay J. Jakkrit, the supple actor from Taiwan) and others continue to cause problems for the rulers but they realize the value of Kunjali very soon. Mangattachan (Hareesh Peradi) convinces Samoothiri (Nedumudi Venu) that Kunjali Marakkar will be the right choice to lead the army against the Portuguese. He wins the battle on the sea for them with the support of Anandan (Arjun/voice by Vineeth) and Chandroth Panicker (Suniel Shetty) and thus becomes the trusted ally for the king and others. From that moment onwards, the story takes new turns and twists with more characters getting introduced like Subaida essayed by Manju Warrier, Archa (Keerthi Suresh), and others played by Mukesh, Innocent, etc. The story is later filled with numerous intrigues, betrayals and merciless killings and so on leading to an emotional climax. The three-hour long drama turns out to be a bit tedious for the audience though it has its own moments. 

‘Marakkar’ deserves applause for the use of special effects and also the artwork especially when you consider the budget constraints of Malayalam films.  Sabu Cyril and Siddharth Priyadarshan have done a marvelous job though I felt, Sabu Cyril is still having the hangover of ‘Bahubali’, especially in the war sequences. The colour scheme employed perfectly suits the time and theme and Tirru has offered some scintillating shots. The biggest problem with the film is the scripting part. Unfortunately, Priyadarshan and Ani I.V. Sasi have failed to create an impact. The scenes which would have generated humongous response in theatres fizzles out because of this. The introduction scenes of Marakkar, his entry to the Zamorin’s court (the song “Chembinte Chelulla” in the background), the war-scenes, the fight between Mohanlal and Arjun are a few examples for this. The dialogues are below par and at times turn funny too. The scenes and instances are quite predictable. The film boasts of an ensemble cast with actors coming from different languages but that too stays hackneyed. The editor Ayyappan Nair has done a decent job in connecting the sequences which are half-baked. 

Coming to the performances, the actors remain helpless due to poor characterization but one cannot forget Fazil as Kutti Ali Marakkar though he appears for only a few minutes. Jay J. Jakkrit too finds a place in our heart. Prabhu, Arjun, Manju Warrier along with Priyan’s favourites like Mukesh, Innocent, Ganesh, etc. have tried their best but at times falls apart. I felt even Mohanlal looked a bit out of place though he tries his best to shoulder the film forward. The attempt to stay close to films like Gladiator, Troy, Bahubali, etc. too backfired. Though there are many flaws, I still feel that ‘Marakkar’ is watchable for the camerawork, visual effects, a few standout scenes, song sequences (especially the lullaby and the opening Sufi part of “Kannil ente” in which I felt goosebumps. Thanks to Ronnie Raphael) Rahul Raj’s BGM and of course for the final twenty minutes. I’m sure the audience will have certain moments to carry home and to watch a Malayalam film in such a grandeur itself is a privilege. 

I have always believed that the quality of the film and its success are entirely different aspects. Though ‘Marakkar’ has numerous drawbacks, I’m sure it will mint huge money. I salute the efforts of Priyadarshan, all other people associated with the film for the pain they’ve taken and special mention for Antony Perumbavoor and other producers for the decision to fund such a movie. It has pushed the boundaries of Malayalam cinema yet again and the colossal response underlines the aura of Mohanlal, the most bankable star of Mollywood. I’m sure this will give confidence to other filmmakers to dream big and execute wonders. I sincerely hope the most successful actor-director pair of Malayalam cinema will bounce back with meaningful outings soon and until then, let’s cherish ‘Kunjali Marakkar’…

Ranjith Krishnan K R

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