Mahaaraja kicks off with a music number that has Nassar (with straightened, orange hair) dressed in contemporary clothing and acting 'cool'. Witnessing this while knowing that he has movies such as Sankaran Koil, Osthi and Uchithanai Mugarnthaal under his belt, I couldn't help wondering if Nassar was going through midlife crisis. To my surprise, the movie was indeed, a comic take on midlife crisis- a transitional phase of self-doubt.
Middle-aged Mahadevan (Nassar) lives a budget vazhkai, rides an otta scooter, wears out-of-vogue clothes and bears a sullen expression on his face for all of the above reasons. His paal-paayasam accompanied birthday is not an occasion to celebrate, but one to dread. Mahadevan would've got by easily had he been living in the 80's or 90's. In this day and age, with westernization overpowering everything else, he's constantly reminded of a flame that died out long ago and it questions the purpose of his existence. He hates being called perusu, thatha and the like. An estranged nephew lights up his world by offering him a job, a new look, a mansion and other benefits, which include a girlfriend who Nassar brings to meet the family.
Director Manoharran has new ideas. They're refreshingly funny and Nassar keeps the laughs coming by providing justice to a well-written character. Instead of going for realism, Manoharran blends the story with commercial elements and you're not expected to take it seriously. It is a combination that entertains.
Nevertheless, only about a half of the movie has everything I'm talking about. The remaining half has unnecessary music numbers, fight sequences, villains, a subtext on capitalist guilt and pages of a love story that should've been torn to shreds. Hence, I am left with no choice but to award Mahaaraja with two and a half stars in spite of all the fun I had. Watch it for Nassar. No one else is worth the trouble.
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