Animation film Hanuman triggered off a trend. It made you realize that 'kiddie films' can stand on their feet if they tell a story that they [kids] haven't watched on the numerous kiddie channels. Like Hanuman, Maruti Mera Dosst is about Lord Hanuman too. This one has two kids essaying central roles, merges animation and live, has loads of computer graphics, but, for a very valid reason, it just doesn't magnetise the kid or the kid in you.
Let's probe. Movies targeted at kids ought to have that certain innocence, that purity, that simplicity that zooms straight into their heart. Surprisingly, like the animation Roadside Romeo last year, Maruti Mera Dosst also treats kids as grown ups.
The negative forces here [Sushmita Mukherjee, Murli Sharma, Shahbaaz Khan] are straight out of masala films that adults enjoy. Even the lighting of sequences as also their make up [Sushmita, Murli specifically] are straight out of scary movies. Plus, these are very strong characters [partly due to their strong performances] too.
Is this really a kiddie film? That's one question that crosses your mind at several points of the narrative. No wonder, the censors have also passed it not with a 'U' certificate [which should've been the case had it been a kiddie film], but a 'U/A' certificate. Rameshwari, an eight-year-old, lives in a palatial house with her doting father [Chandrachur Singh], stepmom and the stepmom's mother [Sushmita Mukherjee]. Kokoi aka the stepmom's mother has come to the palace with the evil intention of inheriting the wealth.
Kokoi tries every trick in the book to harm Rameshwari. She uses black magic and the evil monstrous Tantrik Bhakshu [Murli Sharma], who has devils and spirits as his pets. She uses her brother, a murder convict Sadhu Pahalwan [Shahbaaz Khan], but in vain. Unknown to them, Maruti [Erik Nanda] is Rameshwari's saviour and they all have to contend with and face him.
There's no denying that Maruti Mera Dosst has a few clapworthy sequences, but it's like finding a needle in a haystack. Besides, director Manikya Raju devotes too much time to the evil forces, when, in fact, he should've concentrated on the kids. One of the prime reasons why Hanuman worked was because a large number of viewers not only enjoyed the movie as also the animation quality, but also felt enriched and enlightened by the experience. That's certainly not the case with Maruti Mera Dosst.
Technically speaking, Manikya Raju gets it right. The lighting of several sequences - as mentioned earlier - gives a scary movie effect. The background score is apt at times, but jarring at points. Talking of music, 'Jai Hanuman Gyan Gun Sagar' [over opening titles] is a devotional track that you've grown up listening to. But the other tracks are uninspiring.
Chandrachur Singh has nothing to do. Sushmita, Murli and Shahbaaz are fine actors, but their mannerisms are ill-suited here. The young people at the start and end are complete non-actors. The girl portraying Rameshwari is okay, but the only one who stands out is the child actor enacting the role of Maruti - Erik. He's adorable and a complete natural as far as acting goes.
On the whole, Maruti Mera Dosst is targeted at the kids, but is not for kids. It lacks the purity, the innocence and the simplicity associated with kiddie films and the 'U/A' certificate will only keep a section of its target audience away.