Mahaan: A clash of extremism overloaded with philosophical struggles

Beyond the first pivotal story point of being deserted by his family, the story picks pace and advances on a multi-front.

By Dheeraj Rayalu  Published on  27 Feb 2022 5:26 AM GMT
Mahaan: A clash of extremism overloaded with philosophical struggles

Mahaan is a gangster epic that is stretched thin across the patience of time and amidst an overload of philosophical struggles. It is survived by the finesse of performances by Vikram and Bobby Simha.

The movie starts with Mahaan's (Vikram) childhood where the dangerously prolonged, centric idea of the film is presented – alcohol and Gandhian Principles. One of the weak links of the movie is the first half with overly elaborated scenes diluting the impact of the intended Gandhian values to a mere comedic note. It stretches to an extent, where the audience might wonder the reason behind the ridicule. The plotline takes a leap when Mahaan gets drunk and gambles on his 40th birthday. The movie still continues with a comic undertone built on ridicule towards the staunch Gandhian ideology. This counteracts the intended philosophical binary struggle being addressed at the holistic level by the filmmaker.

Beyond the first pivotal story point of being deserted by his family, the story picks pace and advances on a multi-front. The colors and locations accentuate the rise of Mahaan as a liquor baron first through the brain and eventually into brawn. Bobby as Sathyavan and Sananth as Rocky mature elegantly along the length of the film. However, the movie does surrender to the mass appeal dynamic where Mahaan's life changes overnight in a single incident and how he is able to thrash a group of hooligans out of nowhere while being a complete milquetoast for 40 years of his life. But this deficit is turned into a sharp edge with pumping action sequences (one lengthy shot). The background score and situation-relevant music by Santosh Narayan elevate the intensity and the uniqueness of each scene to a great level.

Unlike a steady graph, Mahaan as a movie is only aided by effective performances by the star cast and specific scenes that spread into the feature-length before you catch onto the next monumental scene while being completely oblivious to the mundane lengthy scenes in between. The story arc of Mahaan's rise in the political layers is weakly choreographed and looks completely avoidable.

The second arc of the movie is shaped into a father-son struggle that itself is a representative battle between hedonism and tight bound morality. Dhruv plays a hysterical cop who is hell-bent on exacting vengeance out of his father for betraying the family's founding morals by burning down everyone associated with his father. While the portrayal by Dhruv is definitely fresh and unexpected, it does not possess the traction of background to accept the hysteria of the actor, making it land shakily as an overperformed version. The build-up towards the climax is engaging and builds on the strengths of the movie until then, plot points that create mass impact are linked together by the end. And the final binary showdown of the philosophical antonyms is portrayed with a clever twist and a high hammer hit at the end.

Actors in the Morality division seemed like they were not given enough scope to paint a sense of seriousness to their viewpoint as evidently observed in the performances by Simran and other members of Mahaan's family who are stomped down to mere absurd extremists.

Mahaan is a clash of extremism of a set of philosophical antonyms based on the reality of a liquor baron's rise and fall. It incorporates the necessary balance of layered depiction along with the required mass appeal quotient with Vikram and Bobby at their remarkable best. And if not for an OTT release, it would have had bright chances in the theatres.

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