Because there are little historical documents of Marakkar, the narrative is based on the history and legends of the period. A historical hero’s story that isn’t rousing.
Critic’s Rating: 2.5/5
The Zamorin enlists Kunjali Marakkar IV to command his fleet in the fight against the Portuguese, but he is foiled by local leaders’ backstabbing.
For many individuals who grew up watching Priyadarshan and Mohanlal films spanning nearly four decades, it may feel like treason to suggest that the legendary duo has produced something subpar. After all, despite a couple of duds like Kakkakuyil and Oru Marubhoomikkadha, they’ve given us a slew of entertaining films, including Boeing Boeing, TP Balagopalan MA, Vellanakalude Nadu, Kilukkam, Midhunam, and even the historical drama Kaalapani, which stirred deep emotions despite some unsophisticated moments.
So it’s almost as if the filmmaker has placed the burden of expectation on you when Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham, the narrative of renowned 16th century sea fighter and admiral of the Zamorin’s fleet Kunjali Marakkar IV who stood up to the Portuguese, is billed as his magnum work.
In addition, the cast contains some of the most well-known personalities in the south cinema business, including Prabhu, Arjun Sarja, and Manju Warrier, as well as Pranav, Keerthy Suresh, and Kalyani, among others.
What do you think you’ll see? The huge screen was ablaze with breathtaking, epic sea battles and wonderful personalities who made us cry with passion as they bravely attempted to safeguard our country from alien invasion. The picture, however, falls short on both counts.
The narrative begins with a recollection of a mother and a hand feeling the water, nearly in the spirit of Ridley Scott’s iconic Gladiator beginning.
When a young Kunjali, portrayed by Pranav, loses his family due to political backstabbing provoked by the Portuguese, he is forced to grow up quickly. This rage and the injustice he sees in the world drives him to retaliate, giving him a mysterious authority that local authorities dread as Marakkar (Mohanlal). When the Zamorin wishes to fight the foreigners, Mangattachan, his trusted advisor and army commander, advises that they enlist his help.
The only maritime fight that follows is the following. And, while we receive the traditional history lesson about how our local rulers, frustrated, work against and backstab each other, leading our country to suffer heavy losses, it fails to elicit emotions.
Maybe it’s because there are so many stars that we don’t feel emotionally invested in any of the characters or their tragic fates, or maybe it’s because of the romance between the king’s ally’s daughter (Keerthy Suresh) and a Chinese fighter in Marakkar’s ranks. This is supposed to advance the plot, but it’s such a mismatch and lacks chemistry that it blows up in the film’s face.
Another last fight scenario takes place between the Portuguese and Marakkar’s soldiers, before things start to go apart for the latter, with betrayal followed by additional betrayal by local so-called allies. Only a couple sequences with the Portuguese – one of which is impossible to believe, and another in which a general is insulted with a current swear term – make the story’s main point feel diluted.
Because there are little historical documents of Marakkar, the narrative is based on the history and legends of the period. While this must be challenging, the video fails to capture what there is evidence of, such as building, scenery, and clothing. With the dismal location where Marakkar’s fort is built and the Pathan-style attire and haircuts, the drama nearly feels like it is set in Afghanistan, which is startling, even though the film received the National Award for Best Costume Design.
Thirru’s cinematography captures the sea fight with the right amount of intensity and beauty. Mohanlal is nimble as Marakkar and does a good job in the combat scenes, but he lacks the enthusiasm necessary for a role in a film like this. Without aiming to be unduly dramatic, the music fits very nicely with the situations.
MS Aiyyappan Nair, the editor, does an excellent job of blending the crucial moments together.
While you may wish there had been more effort put into it, if you are a history buff who is also patriotic, you may enjoy it.
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