`Maharathi`: stuffy but tidy thriller (IANS Film Review)
"Maharathi" is based on Paresh
Rawal`s Gujarati play of the same name. The play, a thriller, has been running
for the last 21 years and has already had 700 shows so far.
Though Rawal himself is the director of the play, he backed out from taking the
same responsibility for its movie version. So, in came Shivam Nair.
Since much of the drama in the movie takes place indoors, the effect of it is
not the same on screen as it has been when played out on stage, so that the
movie ends up giving a stuffy feeling.
It rises above the run-of-the-mill thriller primarily because of clever
narration of the story designed to keep the audience guessing till the final
Adenwalla (Naseeruddin Shah), a film producer, who is past his glory days, is
married to a young aspiring actress, Mallika (Neha Dhupia). Their married life
is far from happy as Addenwalla, having fallen on bad days, takes to drinking
heavily. Frustrated, he lives a wretched life and is loathed by his wife.
Subhash (Paresh Rawal), a struggling actor, one day saves Adenwalla from an
accident. In gratitude, Adenwalla keeps him as his driver.
Though Mallika hates Subhash for his proximity to her husband, he later becomes
her confidant when he gives in to her plan of getting her hand on Adenwalla`s
Rs.240 million life insurance payout. Mallika also ropes in the family lawyer (Boman
Irani) and the caretaker of the house (Tara Sharma) to execute her plan.
Even as they make their plans, the quartet quietly scheme to double-cross one
another. Finally, their greed gets bared when Assistant Commissioner of Police
Gokhale (Om Puri) has a whiff of it.
What makes the movie worth watching is that it has many plausible twists and
turns, keeping the audience guessing where the plot will lead.
The restrained performances of the actors save it from going over the top.
Naseeruddin Shah, as a drunkard, does not rave and rant.
Similarly, Paresh Rawal is not the usual liveried chauffeur seen in umpteen
Bollywood movies who is ever so ready to genuflect before his boss and Neha
Dhupia, mercifully, is not the fault-finding lady of the house who rides
roughshod over whoever comes her way. In short, the cast behaves like normal
human beings and not like caricatures.
However, the build up to the drama in the first half is long drawn out and it
becomes a bit claustrophobic as everything takes places inside a house.
Moreover, it is hard to believe that while Mallika and her cohorts plot and
scheme against Adenwalla right before his eyes, he would not have an inkling of
But these minor faults are covered up by the believable performances of the cast
and the twists and turns of the drama that keep the audience engaged.
Naseeruddin Shah`s performance, expectedly, is impeccable. Paresh Rawal and
Boman Irani, of course, are a pleasure to watch, as usual. Om Puri and Tara
Sharma have very little to do in the movie. They provide able support
The surprise of "Maharathi," undoubtedly, is Neha Dhupia. As a
ruthless, greedy housewife, she shows some spark of histrionics one never
thought she was gifted with.
MAHARATHI-....24 crores...3 scamsters.....a wily lawyer....an astute ACP.. a
sleepwalker and a secret locked in a freezer.
A game is about to begin....
With high stakes and desperate players.
A young, discontented wife, her eccentric, millionaire husband, his trusted
chauffer- cum-confidante and a wily irascible lawyer.
All think they hold the winning cards. All are wrong.. for all are prawns.
And as the game unfolds... a suiside will be camoutflaged as murder.. a phony
kidnapping will result in death... an innocent caretaker will get entangled in
more than what she bargained for.
At stake a life insurance policy of 24 crores.
At sake- freedom from the net cast by the astute ACP Gokhale and Inspector
As the players stage an unnerving battle to outwit each other, the cops close
in for the kill. Everybody will scramble for cover...the plot will get
murkier... the lies will come faster and the motives will become darker.
Suddenly the only thing that matters is survival and of course the 24 crores.
And an innocuous freezer will continue to hide a sinister secret.