Marakkar conquers hearts; history mixed with imagination

The movie talks about Kunjali who died for the nation and for his heroic events in life. The movie starts with an amazing song and takes the pace slowly with history, imagination and myths. History with a lot of imagination is the highlight of the movie.

Marakkar Arabikkadalinte Simham is film written and directed by Priyadarshan and produced by Antony Perumbavoor under the banner Aashirvad Cinemas. It has Mohanlal playing the lead role while Arjun Sarja, Keerthy Suresh, Ashok Selvan, Prabhu, Manju Warrier, Nedumudi Venu, Suniel Shetty and others play supporting roles.

Mohanlal plays the role of Kunjali Marakkar a brave warrior with immense intellect. After being involved in piracy for a brief period of time to help the poor people, he becomes the Naval commander of land of Zamorin to fight against the Portuguese colonizers. The film tries to trace his life and remind people of his legacy and is quite successful in doing that. 

Since the film is based on the life of a real freedom fighter, a lot of elements tend to be predictable. It’s not the fault of the film or the filmmaker but the nature of the genre itself. Therefore the quality of the film depends on how interesting and engaging it is. And the performances of the ensemble cast mainly ensure the film lands on the right side. There have been essays and thesis written about Mohanlal’s acting skills but here he goes one step higher with in the action sequences which are filled with extreme swagger and intensity. He’s in prime form and the fans are in for a delight. 

Among the supporting cast, Arjun as Ananthan, Manju Warrier playing a widowed wife, Keerthy Suresh, Prabhu, Suniel Shetty, Kalyani Priyadarshan and Jay J Jakkrit as Chinali shine. They support Priyadarshan and Sasi’s writing really well. Even though each one has a limited screentime, having so many experienced, talented actors, works well for the film’s cause. 

As said before the plot has a few elements that are predictable. But screenplay makes up for it big time. Usually such grand epics have a non-linear screenplay with a narrator. Baahubali had Kattappa narrating the story, KGF had a historian explaining Rocky’s life while here, the choice of going with a linear screenplay keeps the film focussed for most of the run time. There is a strong emotional base as well which keeps us invested throughour.

The runtime which is less than 3 hours makes sure the audience don’t get bored easily, and there is no stretch in the film where it feels like things are overdone. The slick editing supports this. Sabu Cyril’s production makes sure the film is not just grand in terms of writing. The scenes in the sea looks rich mainly because of his production design. 

The background score is uncharacteristically subtle for a film of this genre, which enhances the experience for the viewer. It’s an experiment that has paid off. The songs appear in frequent intervals and a couple of them do serve as speed breakers to an otherwise finely made film. Thirunavukarasu’s cinematography works in tandem with the art department, showcasing the latter’s work in the most beautiful way possible. Watch out for the shot where Pranav Mohanlal (younger version of Kunjali Marakkar) breaks down and cries with the moon in the backdrop… The frame looks like an oil painting. It’s just a sample of what Thirunavukarasu’s camera work. 

Overall, the grandness in writing and production helps Marakkar end up as a memorable film for the audience. Despite so many characters, we remember each one of them mainly because of the quality of acting performances. The title translates to Marakkar – The lion of Arabian Sea. In a way, it doesn’t do justice to the content because Marakkar doesn’t rule just the Arabian Sea, but our hearts too.