Mahaan - Movie Review

Who is a better actor – Vikram or Dhruv Vikram? While the question itself is silly, the film makes me wonder. Perhaps, it's all in the genes. Dhruv shines as much as his father in this crime drama and proves to be the most promising among the star kids who have hit the silver screens in the past decade. While no comparisons with others, he certainly stands out after an impressive performance in Aditya Verma.

Mahaan, Gandhi Mahaan (Vikram) is a school teacher with a small family and lives a typical 80s and 90s life in Tamil Nadu. As a child, he was skinned by his father Mohandoss (Adukalam Naren) for playing cards with friends. As a staunch Gandhian himself, the namesake’s father takes an oath from his son beating him black and blue that he will lead the live of Mahatma Gandhi as a Mahaan. Years later, he is settled with his wife Nachi (Simran) and son Dadabhai Naoriji (Dhruv) and lives a typical middle class mundane life running errands and as a doting husband cum father. When his wife and son go on a day trip, Gandhi (sic) enters a bar and tastes liquor for the first time in his life. He is comforted by his erstwhile student Rakesh alias Rocky (Sanath) and his father Sathyavan Soosaiappan (Bobby Simha). The two realise they were the ones who played card as kids. They have a great time all night, singing, drinking, playing cards et al. When Nachi returns from her trip, she is heartbroken that Gandhi took to these vices and leaves with the kid for good. Frustrated, Gandhi joins hands with Sathya and goes on to build the latter's fledgling illicit liquor-making business. Over time, they create a “brand” of alcohol by the name "Soorai" to sell them at liquor stores across shops in the State.

When the Government takes notice of the illicit liquor menace killing precious of lives in the early 90s, they decide to form SAMRAT (a fictitious nickname for TASMAC) through which liquor will be procured from manufacturers and directly distributed through officiated stores which are monitored by the Government. This irks Gandhi and Sathya who decide to meet the politicians and form a backward entry. A local politician Gnanam (Vettai Muthukumar) comes forward to help them who also realises that the duo are his childhood friends. The liquor barons (by now) take up monopoly in the liquor distribution business and have a free day. Gnanam meanwhile rises up the ranks to become an MLA, Minister and eventually Deputy Chief Minister of the State. 

Yeah, these things happen only in films. And reel is inspired by real, after all. 

Enter Dada, the cop. Gandhi’s kid is now back after becoming a special assignment encounter specialist with a single motive to wipe out the liquor mafia in the state. A short flashback shows how he and his mother grew up in far off North East India and is gripped with hate and revenge for his father’s vices. He starts knocking off Gandhis associates one by one, including Rakesh. The agmark arasiyalvadhi (politician) Gnanam meanwhile makes a plan to double cross the father, his friend and his son. Each try to outdo the other and eventually Sathya gets killed by none other than Gandhi. Does Dada also kill his father Gandhi? And does Gandhi spare his wife? Well, I leave it for you to watch and find out.

Karthik Subburaj must be appreciated to show reality through his lens. While some moments in the film are quite predictable, there are indeed some wow moments all through the film. His fandom for Superstar Rajinikanth is all over the movie, with direct and indirect references from the beginning to the end. One must really clap hands for KS that he’s not aiming to become a true blue commercial director like many and try different subjects like his previous outing Jagame Thanthiram feat. Dhanush which was all about illegal refugees across countries and how Governments worldwide are (mis)handling the issue. Mahaan would’ve never been a commercial hit in theatres for it's narrative and looks like it was made for an out and out OTT audience which watches hundreds of such films online, especially in English and European languages. Santhosh Narayanan’s songs are neither peppy nor hummable but his BGM matches the movie quite well. DoP Shreyaas Krishna has done a good job and Editor Vivek Harshan has tried hard to keep the film at 162 mins. The overall cast & crew have matched KS’s expectations I guess with a few predictable faces. 

I wouldn’t be surprise if more people worldwide watch the dubbed version than the Tamil one itself. These numbers wouldn't come out anyway! 


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