Director: Balaji Mohan
Cast: Dhanush, Sai Pallavi, Tovino Thomas, Krishna, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar
India likes its masala. Just as we like our food spicy, we prefer our films with a generous sprinkling of action, a twist of comedy, which are then served with a side helping song and dance. However, not all masala entertainers are made equal. Dhanush’s Maari was perhaps a fine example of getting everything right. Its sequel, Maari 2, fails to reach the same heights but is a rollicking ride nonetheless.
Adithaangi and Sanikazhamai’s running commentary about Maari’s love life, whistle-a-minute dialogues such as “If you are bad, then I am your dad” and comic timings of the actors keep this film moving along.
Maari, a thug in Chennai, leads life on his own terms. He kills, he kidnaps and he smuggles, but his decisions are not influenced by greed. That is what sets Maari apart, and what makes him a favourite of the audiences. He is loyal and respects friendship above everything else because he has never known any other relationship in life. So, when Araathu Anandhi (Sai Pallavi) enters his life with love, he is nonplussed.
Maari might be set in the world of goons, smugglers and gunrunners, but in essence it is a film about relationships and how they change over time. The best part about Maari and Maari 2 is finding humour at unexpected places. For instance, Maari loses his temper and yells at Anandhi for being a hindrance in his life and later realises his mistake. He sits in her auto and begins to explain why he cannot express his emotions loudly like her.
They are, however, interrupted by the 102nd attempt on Maari’s life. What does Anandhi do? We see her help Maari kick the assailant and ask, “Dude, couldn’t you come up with a different time? He was just getting ready to confess his feelings and you had to interrupt?” Maari is flustered again and asks with a straight face, “What was I going to say?” The timing works, the humour is relatable and Sai Pallavi’s comic timing in this instance is bang on.
Tovino Thomas as Beeja aka Thanatos plays the villain who is obsessed with killing people. He has no qualms about murdering children or using them as leverage. Tovino tries hard to capture the essence of his character – that of a psychotic murderer who went dark after being torture in jail – but his act comes off as forced at some places.
Maari 2 also lacks the punch that the unexpected climax in the first part elicited. While neither Maari nor Beeja are good, Maari is shown as a goon with a heart of gold and it’s easy to guess in which direction the plot will take. But Maari 2 is essentially an unadulterated commercial film that balances all the masala elements and as a result, it is a jolly fun watch more than anything.
Visually speaking, some of the standout scenes in the film are majorly the stunt portions, and the camera here doesn’t focus on the character’s strength or weakness, but chooses to follow each punch. The sequence of Maari entering the court house is narrated parallel to how he ended up there and the sequences merge really well.
It also looks like Dhanush is ready to follow in the footsteps of father-in-law Rajinikanth, as it is apparent in his dialogue delivery. When Dhanush says he will survive the biggest betrayal by a friend, and yet wishes his friend well, the dialogue segues between Dhanush’s real and reel life. It is fleeting, but noticeably so.
Speaking of music, the song Maari’s Anandhi is visualised beautifully and maestro Ilaiyarajaa’s voice just adds to the crackling chemistry between Dhanush and Sai Pallavi. Yuvan’s music otherwise is forgettable.