Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham Rating- 3/5
Mollywood is an industry that is known for films that are written well and made with a minimalistic budget. It is this feature of Malayalam films that have given it worldwide recognition and fan following. When Priyadarshan, Mohanlal and Antony Perumbavoor announced that they were making an epic film on Kunjali Marakkar IV, we all expected a visual treat. Made on a budget of close to ₹100 crores, this film is Mollywood’s most expensive film so far.
Finally, after many delays due to Covid, and confusion regarding the mode of release, the film hit the screens in December 2021. Now, within 2 weeks of the theatrical run, it is streaming on Amazon Prime. The film’s screenplay is jointly written by Priyadarshan and Ani I V Sasi. The film stars an ensemble cast consisting of Mohanlal, Arjun Sarja, Suniel Shetty, Siddique, Manju Warrier, Late Nedumudi Venu, Ashok Selvan, Prabhu, Mukesh, Keerthy Suresh, Jay J Jakkrit, Hareesh Peradi, Innocent, Baburaj, KB Ganesh Kumar and others. The film also has cameo appearances by Pranav Mohanlal, Kalyani Priyadarshan and Suhasini Maniratnam.
Premise of Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham
Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham tells us the story of Kunjali Marakkar IV, who lost his mother and prospective wife to a Portuguese attack. The Portuguese had attacked Kunjali’s people after they were betrayed by one among the Kutti Ali Marakkar’s (Fazil) men. Kunjali grows to become a hero amongst the poor villagers but is considered an outlaw by the Samoothiri (Late Nedumudi Venu) and his men.
However, when the Portuguese Army declares war on Samoothiri’s kingdom, it is Kunjali, along with Anandan Mangattachan (Arjun Sarja) and Chandroth Panicker (Suniel Shetty) who prevent the Portuguese from invading the Samudiri’s kingdom. But due to a series of events, Kunjali becomes an enemy of the state again. What were these events? What is Kunjali’s fate? Is he able to redeem himself and regain the Samoothiri’s favour? All of this makes up the rest of the movie.
Marakkar is a film that required a grand scale. The producers and investors of the film were successful in providing the same. However, the writing of the film is a huge letdown. The first half of the film is brilliant. The flow of the story and the events that took place fell in place and managed to capture the viewer’s attention.
However, once the film enters into the second half, pacing becomes an issue and several scenes felt forcefully added to extend the film. The second half is dragged out to an extent where viewers become mentally exhausted and want the film to end asap. There are several scenes that don’t add any real value to the story. At the same time, the movie does not spend time developing the story arc of several characters, and viewers are left longing for more screentime from many of these characters.
Another issue with the writing is the dialogues. In several instances, the words used in the dialogues do not feel like they belonged to the era in which the film is set. This kind of takes away the authenticity of the film; a few of them are extremely cringy and have become meme sauce. The film would have had a greater impact if the writing was stronger and crisper.
Making and Technical Work
There is no doubt that Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham is a visually stunning project. Priyadarshan’s vision was to create a visual extravaganza that celebrates the life of Kunjali Marakkar IV, and he has been successful in doing that.
The cinematography by S Thirunavukarasu is spectacular. There are several beautiful frames that he had captured. That said, in certain scenes, especially combat scenes, the camera movement is extremely shaky. There are instances of the camera going out of focus as well, which takes away the visual appeal of the scenes. The excessive usage of close-ups during combat sequences also takes away the naturality and intensity of these high intense action scenes.
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Editing by M S Aiyappan Nair is decent. The occasional abrupt, as well as delayed transitions, hamper the smoothness of the film. He could have easily cut down 30-40 minutes of footage and made the film a tighter and crisper watch.
The background score by Rahul Raj, Ankit Suri and Lyell Evans Roeder felt repetitive. The same tune, with very little variation, is played every now and then. This gives the film a monotonous feel.
The only standout technical work from the film are VFX, Production Design, Costume Design and Music. All of these departments were top-notch and aided in giving the film a grand feel.
The film has an ensemble cast consisting of some very talented artists. However, the most disappointing fact is that none of the cast members are able to deliver a stellar performance for the film. The only stand out performers from the film would be Pranav Mohanlal as young Kunjali, Jay J Jakkrit as Chinnali and Hareesh Peradi as Mangattachan. They were phenomenal in their roles, portraying each emotion and expression to perfection.
Mohanlal as Kunjali gives a very mediocre performance. He is unable to express the emotions of the character as fluently as he usually does. His body movements are caricaturish especially during the combat sequences where he is quite literally unable to move because of heavy costumes.
Siddique, Manju Warrier, Arjun Sarja, Ashok Selvan and Nedumudi Venu do well in the roles assigned to them but are not in their A-game. Suniel Shetty as Chandroth Panicker was absolutely wasted. He had very little scope to perform, but for the time he is on screen, he does a good job. Keerthy Suresh as Archa is a disappointment as well.
Should You Watch Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham?
Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham is a film that was envisioned as a grand visual spectacle. From a technical point of view, it is indeed an epic viewing experience. However, the writing of the film, mediocre acting performances, and excessive reliance on VFX to fill in voids become big letdowns. Being a big-budget film and garnering so much attention, the film is definitely not up to the mark. A stronger script could have mended issues to a great extent. That said, the product at hand is not entirely unworthy of being watched. Just that it doesn’t match up to the expectations the marketing campaign promised us.