Marakkar Arabikadalinte Simham, the Mohanlal-starring epic drama has finally hit the theatres after multiple delays. The Priyadarshan directorial revolves around the historical character Kunjali Marakkar IV, who was the Naval chieftain of Samoothiri kingdom in the 16th century. Marakkar Arabikadalinte Simham is bankrolled by Antony Perumbavoor and Roy CJ, under the banners Aashirvad Cinemas and Confident Group.
Did Mohanlal-Priyadarshan's magnum opus live up to expectations? Read Marakkar movie review here to know...
Visuals & technical aspects
Performances of Mohanlal & some of the supporting actors
Inconsistent writing & predictability
Too many characters and sub-plots
Mohammed Ali aka Kunjali Marakkar (Pranav Mohanlal) loses his entire family and newly-wedded wife (Kalyani Priyadarshan) in an attack by the Portuguese army. He elopes with his paternal uncle Pattu Marakkar (Siddique) to a new place, where he starts helping the poor by all means. A grown-up Kunjali (Mohanlal) is invited by the Zamorin king (Nedumudi Venu) to head the Naval army of the kingdom, upon the advice of his army chief Anandan Mangattachan (Arjun Sarja). What fate has in store for the fighter forms the crux of the story.
Script & Direction
Priyadarshan, the senior filmmaker has succeeded in presenting the finest Malayalam film to date - in terms of technical aspects. Marakkar Arabikadalinte Simham has unarguably pushed Malayalam cinema's boundaries when it comes to production design, special effects, and costume design. The sea portions, especially the war sequence of Marakkar are simply mindblowing. The detailing that is seen in the technical aspects deserve great applause.
But, the biggest problem of the Mohanlal starrer is its writing, which lacks consistency (the film is penned by Priyadarshan and his assistant Ani IV Sasi). The movie constantly juggles between too many characters and sub-plots, and barely scratches the surface. Even though the film mainly focuses on Mohanlal's character Kunjali Marakker, we hardly get any character insight. And this is the exact problem with every single character in the film.
For instance, even though the sequence is a treat to watch, the movie never focuses on how Marakkar planned his moves against the Portuguese. Instead, we get some forced melodrama and romance. Even the dialogues of the film have the same consistency issue, where the characters (especially Mohanlal's Kunjali Marakkar) switch between traditional Malabar dialect and modern Malayalam very often. The predictability factor severely hits the narrative right from the beginning, thus lessening the impact.
Marakkar features all the usual faces of a signature Priyadarshan film. While some of them get a few good moments, others are totally wasted. The Mohanlal-starrer also follows the most overused trope of Indian cinema - demonizing foreign characters. The second half of the film takes a totally unexpected turn, and it dilutes the impact created by the fantastically conceived war sequence and interval block. Marakkar Arabikadalinte Simham would have definitely been a more fulfilling watch if the writing was more crisp and consistent.
Mohanlal, who plays Kunjali Marakkar, is simply fantastic in the action and emotional sequences, as always. But the superstar visibly struggles with the extremely forced Malabar dialect that often reminds his character from Priyadarshan's Kilichundan Mambazham. Arjun Sarja, Siddique, Hareesh Perady, and Ashok Selvan are the actors who impress with their exceptional performances.
The massive supporting cast, including Nedumudi Venu, Innocent, Mamukkoya, Fazil, Suhasini Maniratnam, Mukesh, Manju Warrier, Keerthy Suresh, Jay J Jakkrit (Chinnali), Nandu, Ganesh Kumar, Baburaj, Suresh Krishna, Kalyani Priyadarshan, and others are good in their respective roles but have no scope to do much.
It is Pranav Mohanlal, who plays the younger version of Kunjali Marakkar, who surprises with his matured performance. The star kid has improved a lot as an actor and brings the much-need innocence and fierceness to his character. He is definitely here to stay.
Marakkar is unarguably the finest film ever made in Malayalam cinema when it comes to its technical aspects. Senior filmmaker Tirru has done a brilliant job with the spectacular visuals of the movie. But it is production designer Sabu Cyril and the VFX team headed by Siddharth Priyadarshan who has crafted the world of Marakkar with absolute perfection. The excess duration of the film makes it a tiring watch.
The sea war sequence leaves an everlasting impression with its brilliant detailing and staging. The costume designing department too has done a splendid job. The background score composed by Rahul Raj is the backbone of the film. Ronnie Raphel scores with a great soundtrack.
Marakkar Arabikadalinte Simham is unarguably Malayalam cinema at its technical best. But this Mohanlal-starrer deserved much more. The inconsistent writing, too many wasted characters, and excess duration make Marakkar an unsatisfying watch.