Marakkar-Arabikadalinte Simham film review: Mohanlal’s film is ambitious but disappointing
Priyadarshan’s highly anticipated epic Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham is a refreshing change from the genre of films the filmmaker is known for. It attempts to tell the heroic and fearless story of Kunjali Marakkar, an admiral in the King of Cochin’s fleet, who played a key role in the war against the Portuguese. The film is ambitious in every way, but it lacks the kind of writing or even the moments that set it apart from a film like Baahubali.
Drawing on predictable scenes and bland drama, the big-budget Marakkar never lives up to the hype the promos promised, and ends up as a tiring and disappointing film in which the majority of cast (in their 50s) ) struggle to do an action sequence that might leave you in awe.
Watch the trailer for Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham
Mohanlal plays Muhammed Ali alias Kunjali Marakkar of the royal Marakkar clan. The Marakkars have dedicated their lives fighting the Portuguese invasion of Cochin, and Kunjali is the last heir to the family who spends most of his life as a pirate after his entire family was killed before his eyes by the Portuguese military.
Kunjali swears revenge and becomes the messiah of the poor. He steals from the rich and distributes the booty to the poor. The Portuguese plan to take over the kingdom of Cochin by waging a war, and the only person who can stop them is Kunjali, who is very popular for his war tactics at sea. When Kunjali decides to team up with the King of Cochin , he doesn’t expect him to have a heavy price to pay.
Marakkar, apart from relying on lazy writing, also lacks a singular element that could have made a film of this scale truly memorable. There isn’t a single scene in the movie that makes you sit in your seat and watch yourself in amazement. With the exception of the two action sequences, which are quite decent, it feels like a chore to sit still for the rest of the movie, which also feels bloated at three o’clock. The action episodes were considered one of the highlights, but it’s so boring to see most of these actors struggle to pull off these scenes convincingly.
Priyadarshan fills the film with so many characters that you spend most of the time trying to remember who is playing who. Keerthy Suresh and Manju Warrier aren’t getting the kind of roles they deserve. Then there’s Suniel Shetty and Arjun Sarja, two of the fittest actors in the country today, but they’re not used effectively in action scenes either. Pranav Mohanal plays the younger version of his father, and he owns the film’s first 20 odd minutes with his charming onscreen presence.
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There is a lot of conflict between the key characters but unfortunately you don’t feel it in the scenes. You feel that one character does not wish the other good good, but the writing makes these scenes so lifeless. Even the always reliable Mohanlal struggles to keep the film afloat as he is hardly convincing in the film’s most crucial emotional scenes. It’s like he’s less interested in embracing the character of Marakkar, which could have been better written and handled. As you leave the movie theater, you really start to wonder what indeed earned this film a national award.