Maharshi: Incomplete Journey
Movie Review: Maharshi
Star Cast: Mahesh Babu, Allari Naresh, Pooja Hegde, Jagapathi Babu, Prakash Raj, and Meenakshi Dixit
Written by Vamsi Paidipally, Hari, and Ahishor Solomon
Music Composed by Devi Sriprasad
Edited by Praveen K L
Mahesh Babu doesn’t have to prove anything to himself or to us as an actor. Many expect him to be good and better. It is a surprise when he isn’t. And he is not a Superstar because we choose to call him but because even trade accepts him to be that popular and expects big things from him. It did not happen in one day for him, he needed to be Murari, Okkadu, Athadu, Pokiri, show his Khaleja, Dookudu and be a bad person for a good cause in Businessman and good person for good cause in Srimanthudu, Bharat Ane Nenu. If you observe there is variety in the characters he chose and they made him the star he is. In his case, it is important to see what he can do with a character that writing around his strengths.
Let’s take Okkadu, not many thought he is an athlete to pull off the character of a Kabaddi player before the film and he proved them wrong. Not many thought he can be a village boy but he pulled it off in Murari. Those characters were written and Mahesh Babu played them in his own style and made them remarkable. Athadu plays to his strengths but Pokiri doesn’t. He had to open up more than ever and in Khaleja, he just opened a flood gate. Dookudu cashed on that comic timing and his image but gave his character real purpose to exist. Businessman is all about his character and Srimanthudu, Bharat Ane Nenu also present him in characters written better within a formula.
Even 1 – Nenokkadine was more consistent with his character but the writing fell short of being consistent, rather the movie’s best parts were so good that today people talk more about them that the bad parts. All other films like Sainikudu, Arjun, Bobby, Aagadu, Spyder that tried to use his strength as a star and play around that failed to live up to the expectations of the fans and public. So, Mahesh Babu is not Superstar Krishna or Megastar Chiranjeevi or ANR or NTR who played around their image in the majority of films and rarely found characters that re-define them. Still, even such play around the image films, their characters seemed to have a purpose and represent a section of audiences that story needed to connect with. Sadly, Mahesh Babu isn’t finding strong characters or even stories that can cleverly play around his image more like Dookudu.
When an actor establishes himself as a star, people expect him to come up with something new as there are others to take up roles that don’t require this kind of talent. Writers seem to be tumbling and trembling when it comes to writing something that is worthy of him and talent. In Maharshi, the director and writers wanted to play around the image of Mahesh Babu while trying to get us connected to Rishi. But they forgot that Rishi needed to have his own bones, flesh, and blood rather than just being a man that Mahesh can play.
What is his purpose? Is he there to prove that his father was never a failure? Did he achieve it? If he did so, how? Okay, that is just one part of his journey, then his purpose is to be an honest friend? So, is he proving friendships should be pure? How? Okay, his purpose involves him to be a success that society defines but find that isn’t the true success? If it is so, how? These hows’ make the story of the character and break it too. Vamsi Paidipally confused in bringing all these purposes into a streamlined story.
He defies his father. Hates him so much that he doesn’t even talk to him and then one day they both just end up as two people who had many things to share but never did. This should have been the crux of Rishi‘s journey. This hatred should have defined him. This should have made him cynical and hateful which his father despises. Then, when he proudly states he is his father’s son, we feel like the purpose of the story has been served. Here, we get three random scenes and we never see how that fear of failure makes him nervous or confident. Even if its Mahesh Babu, he can be nervous just like Aamir Khan in 3idiots, he can be hateful like Ranbir Kapoor in Yeh Jawani Hein Deewani from where these threads seem to have been “inspired”.
Similarly, if his purpose is to give a new definition to success as a society will always leave you alone at the top, then he should have been vulnerable, singled out feeling like a fish out of water all the time. But here, he seems to be more than comfortable with his himself until a false guilt kicks in because he forgot a friend who did a lot for him. It should have been him thinking about reuniting with that friend than someone randomly mentioning him in a meaningless “SURPRISE” party.
Now, if his purpose was to show how pure friends can be, then even if it had a social message added on, the fight should have been between friends and their ideologies than one completely being pushed to a corner. You can have two or three strong characters supporting lead. You shouldn’t be afraid to make a villain to the supporting character even though the villain planned it to trap hero. The person who suffered most should get an apology there (not the lead). Like, In Leader, the mother becomes the person to show how even Arjun, the lead is failing to understand the true importance of being truthful when you’re powerful than just being in power somehow. In a film like Pokiri, there is a strong Police character who is bad and makes cringe about his existence. So, when a hero coming from similar world tries, to be honest, we can see how a good person doing bad deeds is different from pure evil. This kind of stuff is important for audiences to really connect to the point. We have message boards, social media to pass messages for purpose of it. In a film, we need characters that shine and deliver a message by believing in it not just because they’re stats.
Well, I can go on saying how Vamsi Paidipally who showed so much depth in understanding characters in Oopiri made a film that makes us believe that Oopiri was more of a one-time thing than him really learning something from that experience. He went for making a film that shows Mahesh being a rough student, a big CEO and a person who gives a social message than writing a character for Rishi than Mahesh can embody and make us root for him. Hence, everything looks forced from start to end. To help him, Devi Sri Prasad did give his career worst and made himself a bigger villain than Vamsi.
In the end, we can say one thing, Krishna became Superstar Krishna because he chooses characters like Alluri Seetharamaraju, Cowboy in Mosagallaku Mosagadu, Prince and estranged brother in Simhasanam, a pure people’s man in Eenadu, a funny assassin in Krishnavataram. All these films could look like they followed a commercial template but they had strong characters that still make these films work. Mahesh Babu too needs strong characters and stories that help them grow not random scenes from different films stitched into one film!