Vampire Owl: I once had a Maruti vehicle parked in the castle.
Vampire Bat: Everyone used to have such a vehicle in our bloody garage.
Vampire Owl: That is something long buried in the past.
Vampire Bat: Yet, there is nobody who hasn’t had a Maruti memory.
Vampire Owl: And it has been mostly the Maruti 800 of the past.
Vampire Bat: With a little bit of Alto and Zen in between the Ambassador.
Vampire Owl: And here we are, owning so many non-Maruti cars.
Vampire Bat: We are not that much into this particular brand anymore.
Vampire Owl: Too many options to choose from, right?
Vampire Bat: As long as the companies do not cease operations. Ford and Chevrolet did the worst for us already in India.
[Gets a paneer puffs and three cups of ginger tea].
What is the movie about? :: Mahesh Padmanabhan (Asif Ali) is known for his Maruti 800 car which was bought by his father Padmanabhan (Maniyanpilla Raju) after taking a heavy loan. It was also one of the earliest cars of the kind, given away by the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, at a final on-road price just below fifty thousand in the year 1983. As a result, he holds the car like a treasure which needs to be perpetually with him. After the death of his father in the Peruman railway accident in 1988, the car has been his only love. He has also become a reputed mechanic in the village while working at the workshop run by Wilson (Shaju Sreedhar). Yet, it is known that after so many years, the loan for the car has not been paid back, and he hasn’t earned anything substantial from his work either. His love and emotional attachment for the car only gets him lose all the opportunities. After years of working in the village, his world remains the same, and a small one consisting of his mother and a small circle of friends who follow similar ideas about the world.
So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The car also continues to get him into trouble, but he is saved by the intervention of his childhood friend Gowri (Mamta Mohandas) who returns from Delhi. They get close to each other once again, but Gowri who is attached to him wishes that he gets a good job to support her instead of wandering around in one old car. He is asked to repay the loan or lose the car, while he rejects the good offers which he receives for the car. There are not many people who are able to help him, and the car, with its historical background doesn’t get any new fans. The owner of the workshop where he is working is also leaving the nation to be with his wife in Europe. In this crisis, Mahesh might be forced to sell his house, but should he go that far as the only thing that he needs to do is to sell the car? Will he leave the only thing that is considered to be the priceless property or will he hold on to it?
The defence of Maheshum Marutiyum :: The list of feel-good movies only get longer, and this one adds on well. The narrative is really good, and we get through the history nicely with the tale – the connection to history is nicely made. The emotions are nicely connected to the old car, even though it does get overboard at times for the main character. The hero makes sure that there is balance being made with it, despite the writing seems to go in one direction. We can see that there are further emotions added at times. There is one fine twist added in the end, which comes as a pleasant surprise, even though one would still feel that it would not have made much of a difference if the progression was just natural. With the surprise, there is also the feeling that there is more than what meets eye, effectively brough to light in the end. Maheshum Marutiyum does have all the nostalgia in store for us too, as there might be none of us who might not have travelled in a Maruti 800, and nobody who has not had a Maruti car at home or relative’s home. Maybe, many years later, there can be a movie about other nostalgia vehicles too, as so many cars are catching up to the nostalgic feeling.
The claws of flaw :: In our list of many feel-good movies, Maheshum Marutiyum does not bring anything newer or sharper, not striving for innovation at any moment. It goes through the commonly used formular while just placing that one old car in the centre of everything. This kind of an action would make it more appropriate for the lovers of Maruti Suzuki or of those vintage vehicles, and not that much for the admirers of other cars – if you have used those Maruti cars at some point of time, especially the early 800s, Altos and Zens, this would feel particularly made for them only. The romantic side could have actually had more strength, and it struggles in front of the romance of the car. Some of the incidents also seem forced, and the movie had actually taken too much of time to get out of the past to the present – that would be about half an hour taken in the process. With its predictable content, the movie is also a little bit too long.
The performers of the soul :: The movie depends on Asif Ali to provide the usual feel-good performance of which he has been a master. His skills in holding a movie like this together is not to be questioned, as proven facts support his ability. Mamta Mohandas comes the leading lady in support, and she continues to be nice to watch with some natural performances, but can only play the second fiddle to a red Maruti 800 from 1983, as the relationship of the protagonist and the car is of more significance. Mamta is the actress who should have been in many big movies, and she blends into her roles effectively all the time. In the early flashback scenes, Maniyanpilla Raju is the centre of attraction, and Shaju Sreedhar becomes that father figure in the later stages, playing his role to effectiveness. Prem Kumar also covers a similar role with class. Idavela Babu and Kunchan have some very small, but memorable roles. Anumol RS of Star Magic fame also has a notable role here. Vijay Babu also makes an appearance in a role which feels like a cameo.
How it finishes :: Maheshum Marutiyum is similar to those good old feel-good movies, most of them featuring Asif Ali in what seems to be an attempt to make the audience feel the goodness factor – Vijay Superum Pournamiyum and Sunday Holiday are just two of such films, and even without the young leading actor, we have the other youngsters in movies like Mohan Kumar Fans with Kunchacko Boban, Jacobinte Swargarajyam with Nivin Pauly, Maheshinte Prathikaaram with Fahadh Faasil, Su Sudhi Vathmeekam with Jayasurya, Kilometres and Kilometres with Tovino Thomas, Vimaanam with Prithviraj Sukumaran, Aravindante Athidhikal with Vineeth Sreenivasan and Jomonte Suvisheshangal with Dulquer Salmaan. All these feel-good movies bring something special to us, and this one mean business too. It might not have the emotional strength of some of the films mentioned in the paragraph, but this doesn’t fall too far behind. The feelings are surely present, even though a non-living thing gets the centre-stage. Even though a lesser known feel-good movie in comparison to the others which I mentioned earlier, this one keeps the feel-good factor at the core to keep the less appreciated genre alive and kicking.
Release date: 7th April 2023 (Amazon Prime Video); 10th March 2023 (Theatre)
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: Sethu
Starring: Asif Ali, Mamta Mohandas, Maniyanpilla Raju, Divya M Nair, Vijay Babu, Idavela Babu, Kunchan, Prem Kumar, Varun Dhara, Krishnaprasad, Shaju Sreedhar, Manu, Nancy G, Anumol RS
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