Mahaveeryar Malayalam Movie
Writer-director Abrid Shine's Mahaveeryar is quite an audacious film. It has elements of time-travel and courtroom drama. That said, it is neither a time-travel film nor a courtroom thriller.
Nivin Pauly plays a saint, Swami Apoornananda, who can travel to the past or the future. At the start of the film, we are introduced into the life of an 18th Century King with a hiccup problem. The hiccup of the King, played by Lal, is so persistent that it does not even let him sleep. How can a king perform his duties when he is not in good shape? So, it seems bizarre that the King wants the service of a beautiful woman when he is barely able to function. There may be an explanation to this, but it makes little sense. It is among the most bizarre things in the film.
We also see Apoornananda traveling to the future, to a time with cell phones. Soon, the Saint, the King, the Minister (played by Asif Ali) and the King's servants all assemble in a 20th Century courtroom over a case. The makers use the element of time travel only to get all these people in the courtroom.
This movie has an approach to telling a story with little to no punctuation. It seems that the makers were on a high when they made the film (pun intended). For instance, the jump cut that takes the characters from the 18th Century to the present day seems so bizarre. They just rode a chariot from some celestial place to a courtroom? How does it make sense? It does not have to make sense if the making is so audacious.
One can make sense of a saint with a midas touch arguing in court for himself with law points in English. After all, he is a special saint who can do magical things. But what about a chariot with imaginary wings? Now, this is where the audience needs to suspend their disbelief. It is one of those ingenious films that would work best with multiple viewings if you just go with the flow. Let Abrid Shine be the wings to your wild imagination.
Little is easily explained here. With such an abrupt change in the plot, you might wonder what is going on at the start of the second half. It does not help that the pacing dips at that point, making the narrative seem flat. But the acting is so good that it keeps our interest in the proceedings even in those portions.
Working from a short story by M Mukundan, Shine throws darts at our collective consciousness while touching upon the influence of political power. It is no coincidence that the King occupies a seat opposite to the Judge (Siddique) in the film. It means something, is a plot device and a way of making a point about authority. Mahaveeryar works as an allegory about the static nature of authority even amid the passing of time.
Now, it is not easy for everyone to understand the concept of the film because Shine does not explain anything verbally. This approach might put off some, but observant viewers would appreciate the audacity that the filmmaker shows in how he tells the story. They would also notice the use of symbols of power that serve as clues to the meaning of the film.
Mahaveeryar is also a stunning visual film thanks to cinematographer Chandru Selvaraj's exquisite frames. Another extraordinary aspect of the film is Ishaan Chhabra's soundtrack. The music in the film plays a part in the process of building the spiritual and mystical world of Apoornananda. It adds an extra dimension to the character of Nivin Pauly. For a film that mostly occurs indoors, the music ensures a good theatrical experience as well.