Maara Review: They Changed My Favorite Part of Charlie!!!

I watched it! And boy, was that a slog! Not because it is a bad movie, just because I really really had to pay attention while watching it, and it is hard to find the time to really really pay attention to things.

This movie is just so so pretty. If you need an escape from dreary trapped inside winter, this is perfect. It’s sunshine and beautifulness and sitting outside having chai with strangers and just being happy. I totally recommend it for those reasons, full on escape from life.

First single from Madhavan and Shraddha Srinath-starrer Maara to be out on  this date

Full on escape from life feeling too, it’s a little bit magical and mystical, and everything seems a little bit fated to happen. It’s a world that is like our world, but brighter and better and stronger. Makes you feel like there is something wonderful happening everywhere, just under the surface.

And it is a perfect Maddy role. The central character is a bit of a magician, but also very human. He has to feel kind of more-human-than-human, that’s his magic. And Maddy is perfect for that. Big beaming smile, messy hair, casual clothes, and yet somehow magical inside. You trust him immediately, you understand why all these characters go off with him without question, and you wish you could too.

Maara review: Madhavan-starrer is enjoyable | Entertainment News,The Indian  Express

Shraddha Srinath, the heroine, is fine. But she can’t compete with Maddy, it’s very unfair, whenever she is onscreen I am just waiting to get back to Maddy again. I guess the same is true for all the actors/characters, I am just marking time until we get back to Maddy.

Which brings me to the thing I don’t like. This is a remake of the Malayalam film Charlie. In that film, they just very slightly shifted the narrative in order to make our heroine an equal to our hero, they just hadn’t met yet. In this film, everyone else just feels far more ordinary while he feels far more magical. The sense of a whole world of people with a little magic in them and he just happens to have the most is changed to a world of normal people, and one magician. I don’t like that.

What could be special about this story is not the “magical meant to be lovers” part, but the idea of a man who has lost touch with his humanity and the one woman who can match him. And I feel like Charlie pulled that out more than this film.

Overall, this is the better film. Better lead actor, better visuals, better songs, all of that is higher quality. But I do miss that one little odd open narrative thread from the original script. Read on to SPOILERS if you want to know what I mean.

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The central idea of this film is lovely. A woman runs away from her family and a planned engagement and rents a room to hide from them. The room belonged to an artist and is filled with his drawings and art, and she becomes fascinated by him. She starts tracking down his friends and hearing stories about the good things he did, saving an orphan from a brothel, and so on. Eventually she gets a clue to a village farm where he was raised. She goes there and finds the miss-matched orphans of his found family and learns even more about him. She also finally finds the true love of his adoptive father who he has been searching for, which truly wins him over when he hears about it. At the very end of the film, they finally meet, after having heard stories of each other from others over and over again, and immediately become one.

There are a couple small changes from the original Malayalam version that add up, for me, and make this whole film feel different. And then it culminates in the end where there are big BIG changes. First, in the original our heroine overhears her family talking about an engagement and immediately walks out of her brother’s wedding, still wearing her traditional fancy sari. She is immediately a bit of an outsider, not like other people in the world, odd. Slightly bigger change, partway through the film she stumbles into a gathering of friends of the hero and meets his father. His biological father. He isn’t some otherworldly demon sprung from nothing, he came from a dysfunctional family and now his father is trying to find him to apologize and fix things, and he is running from him. So, in the original, she is slightly magical right from the start, and he is slightly human.

Charlie Movie: Showtimes, Review, Songs, Trailer, Posters, News & Videos |  eTimes

The big change comes at the ending. In the original, just as they are about to meet, her family tracks her down and tries to take her home. He learns he missed her and shows fear and worry that they won’t be able to meet up after all, and leaves her a clue. They finally meet at a big festival and at the last moment, she greets him but pretends to be someone else. And we see his confusion, hope, concern, now she has the upper hand because he really wants her to be the woman who has been looking for him. They finally figure out who each other is, and the last shot is the two of them riding on the back of a wagon together, smiling. She has joined him in his neverending journey, his match in terms of humanity combined with magic.

In this version, she leaves the wedding after a big conversation with her family in a planned way, it’s not quite the shock and social boundary break. There is no father of the hero who appears, so far as we know he has been wandering since birth. And at the end, the simply meet. No last minute missing of each other, no joke played so he isn’t sure it is here, they just meet.

What I miss is that in the original we had a story of a magical genie type, but one with human fears and frailties. He is running from his father, and at the end he is running from love. In the last half hour or so, the film suddenly switches from our heroine’s perspective searching for him, to his perspective knowing she has been looking for him and trying to figure out what to do about it. Everyone around him tells him that this is the woman for him and he should go for it, but he is clearly afraid. He keeps putting it off, trying to stay above human emotions. And at the end we see him break, see him reveal that he does want/need something from someone else after all. Before finally seeing them traveling together, it’s not about finding a safe happy “normal” ending, it’s about finding companionship on the road.

This movie, our hero barely hears about the heroine, I don’t have that strong sense of him searching for her in turn. There is no last minute missing each other when she is taken back home to be married. It feels far more like a usual “heroine has to work and earn the magical hero so that he notices her” than a “two peas in a pod” kind of thing. And the ending shot I really miss. Instead of seeing the two of them traveling together, we see them embracing on a mountain top, with a potential implication that he will just stay home from now on, be a regular boring person, stop traveling, be saved/changed by love. BOOOOO!!!!

17 thoughts on “Maara Review: They Changed My Favorite Part of Charlie!!!

  1. Maara’s ending was ok, and I liked it, but inside I missed the original ending. Charlie’s distinguishing mark was that he was so free, like a spirit. Tessa also was this kind of person and that’s why they were so good together. And it was so nice to see them traveling in the end.
    Maara was different, he has traveled all his life and deserves a happy boring home in the end. I’m glad he found it, but it makes the movie very similar to others.
    I was more disappointed with something else – that Maara was wandering only because he wanted to find Meenakshi, and felt bad he didn’t find her. It made the character more human, but at the same time poorer in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! Agree with both points! In the original, he was more of a magician, traveling around because he just liked to travel and bring good to the world. And Parvathy was the same, she wasn’t running “towards love” or anything, she was just running to run at the start, she didn’t want to be trapped. they both were alone because they couldn’t picture a partnership that meant they could keep traveling. But in the end, they found someone who was just as happy to wander as they were.

      On Wed, Jan 13, 2021 at 11:09 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Yes, it was beautiful. I was hoping the remake will have this part, nevertheless I like Maara ending too. Maara and Paaru are like two pieces of puzzle: she has one part of the story, he has the other part and they must meet to connect it. I only wish there was more romaticism in their meeting.

        The only part I didin’t like is when Maddy saves the girl from the hotel. It was one of the best scenes in Charlie. It was quick and cool and sexy but also shocking because (if I remember well) it was the first time Charlie was angry and violent. Here the scene was too long, and Maddy not enough mad in my opinion.

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        • Yes! I remember in Charlie it all felt like a build together. We saw him floating along fixing things and being magic, and then being truly stunned and hurt and sad about Mary’s death. That shock and sorrow at the one thing he can’t fix leads straight into the way he saves the girl, broken through to human emotions.

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          • All the scenes regarding Mary were more shocking and better in Charlie. Here we didn’t see her jumping from the boat, and it’s only mentioned that “she was sick, so would die anyway”. But it’s not the same “being sick” and “having HIV because your husband forced you to prostitution”.

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          • And I will add “having HIV which means you are either out of work as a prostitute, or know that you are killing everyone you are with”. Plus there is the open question of if the daughter is infected or not.

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    • It’s a great Maddy for you, very big and friendly and all that, but the plot might be too dreamy and magical.

      On Wed, Jan 13, 2021 at 3:06 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. I loved Maara far more than Charlie. Charlie was a fantasy for young people. Maara was a fantasy for older people who are worn down by life and looking for a way to find home and rest. Charlie felt facile to me and the hero was self-aggrandizing in a way I didn’t like. It was beautiful and a lot of it was charming but I felt like Maara had more emotional weight because Maddy himself was more weighty in every way, bigger, older and more weighed down by life. He was tired. When Paaru found Meenakshi my husband cried because in his words “She rescued him and he really needed rescuing.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • And I remembered I’d written a response to a YouTube review that got at the point I was trying to make about Maara far better than the one above:

      Charlie is a young person’s film. Maara is about getting older and realizing you can’t solve all problems alone, you need people in your life to help you with the journey. The magic doesn’t come from one larger than life person, the magic comes from the surprising moments of grace and salvation in unexpected sources. Even though both films follow a lot of the same beats, the fundamental heart of each one is very different. I preferred Maara but I am Maddy’s age and I get it. I understand what the filmmakers were trying to do with it.

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      • Yes, that makes total sense. Maddy was taking everything on himself, giving always to others and never being brave enough to ask for help. The heroine was the one person who just pushed through and made herself help him. Plus, his nice foster father was always there ready to take care of him, and he ran from that, wanting to pay back the old man somehow instead of just accepting love.

        But also, OLD PEOPLE!!! BORING!!!

        On Wed, Jan 13, 2021 at 9:22 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • Boooo, old people! They’re boring! I like Charlie with the young people traveling the world and having adventures.

      But yes, I totally see your point. I think I have a hard time giving in to that message largely because I have the original in my head, but one other small thing is I think the heroine is too young. She’s literally too young, we see in the flashback that she is maybe around 5 when our hero is around 12 or 13. But as adults, they feel more like they are separated by decades. If they had been brave enough to cast someone closer in age to Maddy, and written her character closer in age to him (less about the family pressuring her to marry, more about the family having given up on her as she sees her younger cousins marry), then it would be a message of an old tired man finally finding a home, and an older worn out woman finally finding joy and freedom.

      On Wed, Jan 13, 2021 at 7:59 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. The impression that I got from this movie is that it wasn’t really Maara or Paaru’s story – they were just making Vellaiya and the nun’s (sorry, forgot her name) story happen. The impression that I got was that both Vellaiya and the nun are out there in the world, telling their shared story, and I loved how that fit with the metaphor of the story they were telling itself – the clouds and the sea conspiring to make the soldier and his fish reunite. I went into the movie thinking that the clues Maara leaves are for Paaru, and that she’s searching for Maara, but by the end I got the distinct impression that they were just pieces being moved by Vellaiya and the Nun’s love. Maybe that robs them of their agency? But that just made it feel more fairy tale like and magical for me.

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    • That is a lovely interpretation. If we flip it like that, then it is almost like we are watching the epilogue of a great love story and seeing the people within the story gain agency suddenly once their roles are complete. Like in Mahanati, when our young reporters fall in love through learning the story of Savitri. Only more magical and symbolic.

      On Thu, Jan 14, 2021 at 6:41 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. I watched Maara and now I want to watch Charlie to compare the two. But I can’t find it streaming. Any suggestions? I have Netrflix, Amazon, Hotstar and of coures YouTube.
    I wasn’t thrilled with Maara. Stunning visuals to be sure and Madhavan can do anything, plus no matter how heavy he gets, and he is a bit ponderous in Maara, he has that beautiful, expressive face. But it felt way long which is the kiss of death in a film. Why does the lady in the bus tell the story about the soldier looking for his soul? If Maara is the searching soldier, he seems to be anything but soulless. And the lady gives the grandmother a conch pendant, the same one the nun has in the end. Is she the nun?Chronologically, I don’t think she can be, and isn’t it a different actress? I was peeling hard boiled eggs at the time and may have looked away. I found that Maara’s singular quest doesn’t jibe with his magical goodness. He’s looking for Meenakshi, that’s all. Not his soul mate, not his roots, not the heroine. She falls in love with the mystery of him but in the end he’s like, “So this is the girl they’re all telling me about. Okay cool, I’ll settle down with her.”
    Like I said, I didn’t pay the close attention I should have, so I may have missed key points. But it’s not a film I’ll watch over and over like I do with so many.

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    • So you did miss kind of a big point. The nurse at the beginning is the nun at the end. The story she tells is the story Maddy’s foster father wrote for her. They were separated as young people and both of them have spent their lives searching for the other and telling this story to everyone in hopes of it bringing them together. Maddy and the heroine are ultimately just the tools of their love story, the fish and the soldier are the old man and woman. Maddy and the heroine are the Cloud and the Sea bringing them together.

      But your other critiques still work. So, he just ends up with her because she is there? And his singular quest is what is driving him, but also he is magically good? Yeah, none of that makes sense.

      On Fri, Jan 15, 2021 at 7:12 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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