Rishi, a millionaire businessman, returns to his homeland, where he becomes the champion of poor and downtrodden farmers. Directed by Vamsi Paidipally, Maharshi features Mahesh Babu and Pooja Hegde in central roles.
Maharshi Review: Slightly Off The Mark But A Good Watch
Superstar Mahesh Babu is one of the few South Indian actors with a pan-India appeal and commands a huge fan following all over the country. In his two-decades-long career as a lead actor, the Tollywood’s Prince charming has several landmark roles and has delivered some of the most memorable films in recent times. Off-late, he has turned his attention towards films with a blend of commercial elements and a socially relevant point, a formula successfully nailed by Tamil hero Vijay.
Maharshi is the 25th film in his career. That he has completed two decades as a lead actor completed 25 films is a sweet moment for his fans, and add to that he has a successful track record as a child artist where he enjoyed considerable stardom makes him a special talent in Telugu Cinema. Never in any film industry, an actor has seen such stardom both as a child artist and lead actor, let alone create numerous box office records. Let’s see how his silver jubilee film turned out with Maharshi review.
The journey of Maharshi
Rishi is a man of success. He has never tasted failure in his career as a businessman (no, not Puri Jagannadh’s). He started as an employee in an American company and rises through the ranks double quickly to become the CEO. The movie starts with the scenes showing all this and an interview follows. During that time, he goes back down the memory line and we get to see Rishi as an ambitious young man who craves to be successful in his life.
The reason for this is properly and relatably established. Rishi comes from a lower middle-class family where his father is bound by values rather than individual advancement. This always leads to friction between the father and son. The tipping point comes when his father faces serious insults for a loan of 10,000 rupees. He decides to become the richest man possible and achieve everything his father failed to achieve.
In the present, after taking charge as the CEO with an eye-popping salary of about 1000 crores, Rishi goes back to India. There are a couple of surprises in store for us. Friends meet where he finds that a couple of his close mates – one is Ravi played by the terrific Allari Naresh and his former lover Pooja played by Pooja Hegde (creatively named). Why?
It is later revealed that all the success Rishi achieved couldn’t be possible without the contribution of both Pooja and Ravi at key instances of his life as a college student. When he goes to find and meet Ravi, he comes face to face with a harsh reality regarding the lives of people because of an oil and gas company.
He has to stand behind his fighting friend Ravi and need to have a face-off with another industrialist, ingeniously named Vivek Mittal. How and why Rishi change his ways and rise in his life to become the Maharshi who fights for farmers form the rest of the story. It is the transformation of a man of success who fears failure to a man who understands what real success means is the crux of Maharshi.
Mahesh is the real superstar of an actor
Superstar Mahesh is one of the few world-class performers in Indian Cinema who doesn’t resort to melodrama and overacting. He is always subtle in his histrionics and pulls out a new dimension whenever the character he plays demands like in Nijam or Dookudu or Pokiri. Though Rishi is a tailor-made role for him in many ways and his character arc follows the same pattern for the most part as his recent films like Srimanthudu and Bharat Ane Nenu, he has shown variation with both his physical appearance and acting.
There are three shades to his character in Maharshi. Though it is redundant to describe how well Mahesh performed, as this is a landmark film in his career, the occasion demands proper attention to his work in this film. As the carefree but ambitious youngster in his college life, Mahesh has probably given his finest performance in over a decade barring 1: Nenokkadine. It is a joy to watch him as a student and we get a feeling that why the hell he didn’t try such roles in his career till this point.
Forget his age which is just a number, he can still pull off youthful characters like none of his contemporaries and he should showcase this in at least a couple of more films. His fans deserve this. As the CEO, he appeared ruthless and did well. But the scenes related to this are few and far between. His dialogue delivery in some of the scenes in the face-offs with Naresh and Jagapathi Babu deserve special mention. And he excelled as the CEO turned farmer in the climactic portions of the film.
Allari Naresh and co.
Allari Naresh once again proves how great an actor he is with his performance as Ravi. Even an uneven and stereotypical characterization given to his role couldn’t undermine his performance. It is comparable to Gaali Seenu in Gamyam and he did put up a top-notch work in Maharshi. Directors should take note of the actor in him and create proper roles. His role also forms a key pillar in the plot of the film alongside Pooja Hegde’s.
Pooja Hegde received a meaty role, not in terms of screen time, and she did a commendable job. She is at ease in all the scenes and has upped the glamor quotient in the songs. Prakash Raj and Jaya Sudha again brought their experience to the fore as the parents of the protagonist. The interactions between Prakash Raj and Mahesh are interesting and appear realistic. Jagapathi Babu as a corporate honcho and hence the villain is good and adds weight to the film. All is well till this point.
Writing and direction
It is the narration that takes a hit in Maharshi. Though the first half induces nostalgia and has ample entertainment, we fail to understand its relevance to the main story of the film. The visuals and setpieces between the three lead actors are refreshing though. There is a big confusion in the director as to what is the main point of the film. Is it the farmers’ issues or the oil-gas case?
He failed to establish the emotional thread between Naresh and Mahesh in a proper way. It is missing the required weight necessary to make the audience feel for the characters. Also, the solution shown for the issues discussed in the film is superficial. For a film of this magnitude and landmark, it is unpardonable. This is where Shankar succeeded with Sivaji. Maharshi is good as a popcorn entertainer with a message written all over it but it’s neither thought-provoking nor is it an emotional ride.
Also, the filmmakers should know it is not always right to show businessmen and corporates as villains. After all, filmmaking itself involves bucketloads of money. Also, it is better to come up with innovative and sustainable development solutions rather than flaring up emotions in the audience. Times are changing. Narrating films should also change. Maharshi could have become a true landmark film in Telugu like Rangasthalam did last year if proper care is taken in terms of narration.
The music of the film is passable when it comes to the songs. But the background score by Devi Sri Prasad is terrific. Nevertheless, it is high time he needs to reinvent himself in terms of creating new sounds. The lyrics by Sri mani are excellent. The cinematography is top-notch. K. U. Mohanan really innovated in capturing various moods in the films. The college visuals are vibrant. The visuals in the US scenes are lavish. The same in the rural section have a gritty feel. Hats-off!
The editing must have followed the same sentiment by the makers who released the film on 9 May because films released on this date have turned out to be landmark blockbusters. No. Not every three-hour long film can become a landmark hit. At least a half hour of the film deserves to be trimmed. It would also help to add one more theatrical show apart from giving the audience a slick feel.
The production design is good. All the money spent by the trio of producers may not be visible on the screen as there are always incidental costs that are unfathomable for the common audience but Dil Raju and co. delivered a first-rate visual experience. If only they had taken proper care with the story!
Maharshi is a sure shot box office hit. There would be no doubt about it. But it is a great chance missed for the makers to come up with a genuine landmark film deserving of the occasion as Mahesh’s silver jubilee film. Maharshi is more of a safe bet than an innovative film. You can watch it once without doubts. But it doesn’t have repeat value which is unfortunate. Makers should know that fans deserve more than mere fan service. A star of Mahesh’s potential deserves better content.
Mahesh Babu's superstar turn Vibrant college episodes (forget 3 Idiots, okay?) Core subject Top-notch production values
Narration should have been better Songs are merely okayish