|Directed by||Dhilip Kumar|
|Produced by||Prateek Chakravorty|
|Based on||Charlie (2015 Malayalam film)|
by Unni R.
|Edited by||Bhuvan Srinivasan|
|Distributed by||Amazon Prime Video|
Maara is a 2021 Indian Tamil-language romantic drama film directed by Dhilip Kumar in his directorial debut, and produced by Prateek Chakravorty and Shruti Nallappa of Pramod Films. An adaptation of the 2015 Malayalam film Charlie by Martin Prakkat, the film stars Madhavan, Shraddha Srinath and Sshivada, reprising the roles played by Dulquer Salmaan, Parvathy Thiruvothu and Aparna Gopinath in the original counterpart.
Pramod Films acquired the remake rights in early 2016, after which it underwent series of casting and screenplay changes for two years. In June 2018, Dhilip Kumar was announced to direct the film, after Martin Prakkat (the director of the original film), and A. L. Vijay, opted out of the project. Filming commenced on June 2018, with sporadic schedules at Kochi and Pondicherry, before the shooting wrapped up within late 2020. The film's music is composed by Ghibran, with cinematography and editing were handled by Dinesh Krishnan, Karthik Muthukumar and Bhuvan Srinivasan respectively.
The film was scheduled for a direct release, through over-the-top media services, after theatrical release plans failed to happen, due to the COVID-19 pandemic in India. Amazon Prime Video, which acquired the streaming rights of the film, premiered it on 8 January 2021. The film received praise for characterisation of Madhavan and Shraddha, story and background score, although being criticised for cohesion, casual screenplay and the extended duration of the film.
Parvathy (Shraddha Srinath) a.k.a Paaru, is a restoration architect who comes to a small coastal village in Kerala for a project, while avoiding a marriage set-up back home. She finds a fairy-tale she had heard long ago as a child painted across the village. With the help of her friend, she ends up renting a house, filled messily with art and artefacts. She learns that it belongs to an artist named Maara (Madhavan) who is responsible for the paintings across the village. Maara is a free spirit and traveler who is often away visiting various places and returning as he pleases. When she starts cleaning up the place, she finds Maara’s photo and a sketchbook. The sketches depict the previous New Year's Eve when a small-time thief (Alexander Babu) tried to rob Maara. In a turn-of-events, Maara joins the thief, and they both go on the rooftop of a home with a plan to rob the place. There, they see a woman about to shoot herself. The sketchbook ends there, and the story is left unfinished, which piques Paaru’s curiosity about the rest of the story, and Maara as a person.
Intrigued, Paaru starts finding the people in Maara’s sketches. Backtracking his steps, she meets an antique dealer, Usman bhai, a “pirate”, Chokku and learns about Selvi (Abhirami), a physically abused woman that Maara had known. Maara and Chokku had taken Selvi out to sea for her birthday where after having an evening that alleviated her sorrows, Selvi commuted suicide. Maara then ensures that her daughter, Rani is enrolled into a school. When Paaru gets news that Rani has gone missing from her school, she traces her back to her father’s lodge. Meanwhile Maara, who has returned to the village, tracks Rani down to the lodge and rescues her from her abuser. Paaru gets a glimpse of Maara but just misses an encounter with him.
One day, she meets the thief depicted in the sketches and enquires about that day's events. He informs her that Maara stopped the woman from shooting herself, and followed her when she started to run away from him. They find the house and finally identify the woman as Doctor Kani (Sshivada). Paaru then tracks her to a mountain village and enquires about her story. Kani explains that when she performed her first independent operation as a paediatrician, a surgical error led to the death of a 10-year-old girl. Further slandered by the media, she was desperate and about to commit suicide on New Years’ Eve when she was by chance, stopped by Maara. Maara then brings her to his mountain village, maintained by Vellaiya (Moulee), his foster father, and she has since been living there. Vellaiya, a retired postmaster and a hopeless romantic, has been searching for his teenage love Meenakshi for nearly fifty years. Vellaiya constantly tells the story of acting out a play to convey his love to Meenakshi, and eventually losing her when a storm flooded his home village.
When Vellaiya shows Paaru a photo of Meenakshi, she notices that she has on the same pendant of a conch as her aunt, Mary, who is a nurse at a convent. She brings her Aunt Mary to the village on Vellaiya’s birthday, realising that the plot of his play is the fairy-tale she had heard as a child from Aunt Mary - a story of an immortal soldier who spends years looking for his beloved mystical fish. An emotional Maara, who has spent all his adult life travelling from place to place in search of Meenakshi, thanks Paaru for fulfilling Velliya's wish. Paaru, who has chased one story after another in an attempt to find Maara, finally meets him in person. They introduce themselves and hold hands as they watch the sun set.
- Madhavan as Manimaaran (Maara)
- Shraddha Srinath as Parvathi (Paaru)
- Sshivada as Kani
- Abhirami as Selvi
- Moulee as Velayya
- M. S. Bhaskar as Usman Bhai
- Kishore as David
- Appukutty as Lingam
- R. S. Shivaji as Selvam
- Guru Somasundaram as Chokku
- Alexander Babu as Thief
- Maala Parvathi as Paaru's mother
- Seema as Paaru's grandmother
- Rajesh Sharma as Logu
- Padmavati Rao as Mary/ Meenakshi
- Ananth Nag as Bala
- Baby Aaradhya Shri as Baby Paaru
- Punya Elizabeth as Paaru's friend
- Geevee Vignesh as Afzal
- Joseph Francis
- Minon as Young Maara
- Junior Balaiah
- Vishnu Govindhan as Gulfy guy
- Naveen George Thomas as Mithran
Producers Prateek Chakravorty and Shruti Nallappa of Pramod Films acquired the Tamil remake rights of the Malayalam film Charlie (2015) by Martin Prakkat, in February 2016. The producers were initially keen to retain Parvathy Thiruvothu from the original version, and considered either Vijay Sethupathi, Sivakarthikeyan or Siddharth to play the titular role. In April 2016, Madhavan was signed on to play the lead role, while Prakkat agreed to also direct the Tamil version of the film. The director later opted out and A. L. Vijay was signed in June 2016 to helm the project, and agreed in principle to take up the project after the completion of his commitments on Devi (2016) and Vanamagan (2017).
In January 2017, actress Sai Pallavi signed on to play the leading female role, with the makers announcing that production would soon begin in Ooty and Pondicherry. Following several months of inactivity, director Vijay confirmed in June 2017, that he would be prioritising other projects and the adaptation of the film was indefinitely postponed. He opted to instead work on the bilingual drama Karu (2018) with the dates he had for Sai Pallavi, and completed an alternate project for Pramod Films, the dance film Lakshmi (2018).
In June 2018, Pramod Films announced that they would make the film under the title of Maara with director Dhilip Kumar (of Kalki fame) signed on to replace Vijay. Dhilip confirmed that the makers were keen to retain Madhavan for the film despite the change of crew, believing that only the actor had the "innate charm" meant for the character of the lead protagonist. Dhilip stated that the makers were initially apprehensive about casting Shraddha Srinath as the lead actress, as she had already been paired with Madhavan in Vikram Vedha (2017), but finalised her because Maara was in a different genre. The director also suggested that he felt both Madhavan and Shraddha shared the real-life characteristics of their on-screen roles. Ghibran was signed as the film's music composer, and cinematographers Dinesh Krishnan and Karthik Muthukumar, editor Bhuvan Srinivasan, Malayali art director Ajayan Challisery was also picked to join the crew.
The actors completed a week-long rehearsal before the start of shoot, with production beginning in Pondicherry on 18 June 2018. The film was subsequently put on hold and Madhavan later became busy with the production of his first directorial venture, Rocketry: The Nambi Effect (2020), meaning that there was a schedule break of over a year. In October 2019, production restarted in Kochi with child actor Minon and comedian Alexander Babu joining the cast. On June 2020, the film's production house Pramod Films, stated that 50% of the film's shooting was completed on March 2020, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in India. The makers subsequently planned to wrap the pending portions in a single stretch, adhering to the safety guidelines imposed by the government, to curb the COVID-19 spread. The film entered post-production in June 2020.
|Soundtrack album by|
|Released||30 December 2020|
|Genre||Feature film soundtrack|
|Singles from Maara|
The film's music and background score were composed by Ghibran, with lyrics written by Thamarai. On 28 October 2020, Think Music India released the lyrical video of the first single "Yaar Azhaippadhu", sung by Sid Sriram. The second single "Oru Arai Unathu", sung by Yazin Nizar and Sanah Moidutty was released on 20 November 2020. The third single "Oh Azhage" sung by Benny Dayal, was released on 4 December 2020. The full album was released on 30 December 2020.
All lyrics are written by Thamarai.
|1.||"Yaar Azhaippadhu"||Sid Sriram||4:10|
|3.||"Oru Arai Unathu"||Yazin Nizar, Sanah Moidutty||4:05|
|4.||"Oh Azhage"||Benny Dayal||4:41|
|5.||"Kaathirundhen"||Ananthu, Srisha Vijayasekar||3:14|
|8.||"Maara & Paaru"||Ghibran||4:50|
|9.||"O Ajooba"||Yazin Nizar||4:37|
|10.||"Search of Soul"||Ghibran||3:34|
The film was scheduled to release directly through Amazon Prime Video, skipping theatrical release, as a result of theatres being shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic in India. On 9 October 2020, Amazon Prime announced the release date of 9 original films, which included Maara scheduled for a release on 17 December 2020. However, a new release date of 8 January 2021 was announced later.
The film opened with mixed-to-positive response from critics. M. Suganth, editor-in-chief of The Times of India gave 3 out of 5 stars stating "The additional focus on this track results in an increased running time, and also takes the spotlight away from the Paru-Maara romance, leading to an ending that doesn’t leave you on a high that the initial moments promised." Logesh Balachandran, writing for India Today, gave 3 out of 5 and stated "Though it's difficult to recreate the magic of the original film Charlie, Dhilip has managed to retain its essence and delivered a film that leaves a lasting impact." Film critic Shubham Kulkarni, writing for the website Koimoi, gave 3 out of 5 stating "Maara is not for the ones who cannot have a bit suspension of disbelief. But if you have an imagination that can travel far, go for it. There are flaws and a lot of them, but there is a lot of hope too, let’s see at the greener side this time."
S. Srivatsan of The Hindu stated "From an aesthetic point of view, ‘Maara’ directed by Dhilip Kumar is beautifully-shot and works somewhat better than the Malayalam film ‘Charlie’, although its rigidity comes close to spoiling the otherwise pleasant and charming film." Behindwoods gave the film a rating of 2.75 out of 5 stating, "Maara is a feel-good emotional drama that is painted with a beautiful story." Film critic Haricharan Pudipeddi, writing for Hindustan Times stated "Maara isn’t a frame-by-frame copy, but it retains the magic of Charlie." Shubhra Gupta, editor-in-chief for The Indian Express, gave 3 out of 5 stating, "Madhavan is appropriately loose-limbed and dishy as he ambles through the film, spreading grizzled, warm charm." Sudhir Srinivasan, gave 3 out of 5 stars for the film, in his review for Cinema Express, stating "This film that contains within it several smaller stories, like it were a book of fairytales, is an appeal to recognise the magicality of our world and its people."
Ranjani Krishnakumar, writing for Firstpost, gave 2.5 out of 5 stars stating "If you aren’t instinctively drawn to the mystical world that Maara and Paru occupy, or even find it desirable, the film is a drag. If you’re a hopeless, dreamy romantic at heart, you might find your longing fulfilled." Baradwaj Rangan of Film Companion stated "The beauty of this fable, based on Charlie, is how much of a love story it is, and yet how it’s not really the love story of the “hero” and the “heroine”." Gautaman Baskaran of News18 gave 3 out of 5 and stated "A truly charismatic Madhavan and an unforgettable Srinath make Maara a great watch." Sowmya Rajendran of The News Minute, gave 3.5 out of 5 stating "Madhavan as Maara, however, looks jaded, but Shraddha Srinath carries the film through with her charm." Indiaglitz gave the film 2.75 out of 5 stating "A breezy, heartwarming entertainer with good performances."
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