Chennai, 10 May 2019 6:00 IST
Maharshi, which marks the first collaboration of Mahesh Babu and Vamshi Paidipally, works beautifully as an emotional tale of a self-made man who wants to give back to society.
Mahesh Babu’s Maharshi is one of those films that never cashes in on its beautiful core idea, which is to focus on the greater good than just personal success.
In the film, three primary characters — essayed by Prakash Raj, Allari Naresh and Mahesh Babu — realize at some point in life that it makes sense to look beyond personal success and give back to society. It’s a well-intentioned tale of an ambitious self-made man who goes on a journey of self-discovery as he chooses people over success.
The film sees Mahesh Babu play Rishi, a man of humble beginnings, making it really big on his own. Having grown up in a middle-class family and seen his father struggle to make ends meet, Rishi decides to chart his own path towards success and goes on to become a billionaire.
As a self-centred man with his eyes fixated on fame and money, Rishi distances himself from people who might slow him down in his race to rule the world, and this includes the love of his life.
Many years after he graduated from college, he learns about what happened to his best friend and returns to India to set things right. The rest of the story is about how his journey back home changes Rishi as a person.
Maharshi works beautifully as an emotional tale of a self-made man who wants to give back to society. The transformative journey of Rishi is worth sitting through; however, it does test one’s patience with a bloated runtime of nearly three hours. Though the film has nothing new to offer in terms of story, it works thanks to its emotional core.
The film spends a lot of time trying to make us understand why Rishi wants to succeed and why he doesn’t want to be like his father. There is a scene where he tells a character that he likes to succeed because he is afraid of losing. It’s a point that could have easily been made in an hour, but Vamshi stretches it for close to two hours with a loosely written college portion.
The film finally takes off in the last hour and it is this stretch which is elevated by the strong emotional core which really makes Maharshi work.
Maharshi has traces of Ashutosh Gowariker's Swades (2004, Hindi) and the farming sub-plot is borrowed from AR Murugadoss’s Kaththi (2014, Tamil). Nevertheless, Maharshi redeems itself strongly in the last 45 minutes. This portion, which throws the spotlight on the miserable lives of farmers and why farming could be an alternative lifestyle, will resonate with audiences. There is a beautiful scene where an old man introduces Rishi to farming and what follows makes for possibly the best part of the film. Through this sequence, we also see how Rishi is transformed from a self-centred man into a reformer.
Mahesh Babu as Rishi is convincing enough to make us root for him. As the successful billionaire, he oozes class and makes it a very exciting character. As the reformer who takes up farming, he struggles to emote the sentiment of the character. But he makes up for it through the friendship sequences with Allari Naresh, who plays one of the best characters of the film.
Pooja Hegde does not have much to do and she plays her part fittingly. Devi Sri Prasad’s music is a big downer; not a single track stands out. KU Mohanan’s visuals are a treat to watch. He captures both the high-rises of New York and the sun-dried barren lands of Ramavaram beautifully.
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