Finally! It has been a long time since 3, but the wait has been well worth it. Dhanush is back in Maryan, a movie that sets out to prove that true love really can conquer all even if you were a bit iffy about that true love at the start. This is the debut film for writer/ director Bharat Bala and while generally he does a great job, there are times when the screen play lags a little, and the focus on desert imagery resembles a National Geographic special. However, superb performances from all the cast and A. R. Rahman’s wonderful soundtrack combine to ensure that Maryan is a film to savour. Plus English subtitles – perfect!
The film starts with Maryan (Dhanush) working in the Sudan for an oil company, where his love for Panimalar (Parvathy), his fiancée waiting at home in India, is perfectly captured by a brief phone call. But it hasn’t always been that way, and the film switches into flashback to explain just who Maryan is and how he came to be working in Africa when he is so obviously yearning to be home.
This first section works very well, where Panimalar is seen as a lovelorn girl, chasing Maryan endlessly despite his disdain and often brutal rejection. Maryan is a fisherman who hunts in the traditional way and has developed amazing lung capacity, allowing him to remain submerged for longer than the other fishermen. He calls himself the king of the sea and obviously has an intimate relationship with the ocean which is really the only thing he cares about. Dhanush effortlessly establishes his character as a brash, arrogant young man who has his faults but is generally likeable and can dance up a storm.
Slowly Maryan comes to appreciate Panimalar’s charms helped along by the active encouragement of his best friend, Panimalar’s brother Sakkarai (Appukutty). Dhanush and Parvathy play their roles perfectly here and the romance is expertly developed with an eye to small town sensibilities. Parvathy has a better than usual role as a heroine and she makes the most of it, using her eyes and body language to express her feelings as she establishes Panimalar as a feisty girl determined to get her man, no matter what it takes. There are a few funny scenes between her and her future mother-in-law Seeli (Uma Riyaz Khan) which work very well, and both Parvathi and Appukutty are to be commended for the way they manage to establish their sibling relationship so well in a few brief scenes.
Despite the excellent chemistry between Maryan and Panimalar, there are a few miscues and the amount of violence Panimalar experiences at the hands of her beloved appears quite unnecessary. The initial slap when Maryan is frustrated by Panimalar’s persistent attempts to declare her love is perhaps understandable, but later scenes including Maryan saying, “Who else will I hit if not you?” are sadly all too common in Tamil films. I understand that this does depict real life where domestic violence is an ever present problem but I wish directors would use the characters to show that it’s just not acceptable rather than brushing it off as an apparently appropriate way for a character to show their distress.
Maryan is forced to work in Africa to pay off debts incurred by Panimalar’s father Thomayya (Salim Kumar) and prevent her forcible marriage to Theekkurissi (Vinayakan). However just as Maryan is on the way to the airport to come home, he is kidnapped by Sudanese militants who hold him, his friend Sami (Jagan) and a fellow co-worker for ransom. While the African militants are poorly drawn, being caricaturised and frequently over the top, Dhanush and Jagan are both brilliant as they show their gradual mental and physical deterioration at the hands of their captors. There are some scenes here that are frankly uncomfortable to watch due to the sheer honesty of Dhanush’s performance and although this type of mental anguish is a role he has portrayed before he takes it to an entirely new level here. Jagan also seems perfectly cast as Sami, and his change from happy-go-lucky guy to terrorised victim is well portrayed.
Despite all the drama, the film does drag a little in the second half. After all there are only so many times you can show someone running up a sand dune before it gets a little repetitive, but the hallucinations (yay – cheetahs!) and Maryan’s determination to make it home to Panimalar help keep things moving long. There is also a lack of hair continuity for Dhanush which is irritating considering the care which has obviously gone into the rest of the film. One good point is that Panimalar doesn’t do a disappearing act in the second half and the film does cut back frequently to show her initial despair and then fervent belief that Maryan is coming back to her. Parvathy is impressive in these scenes and her performance really is on a par with that of Dhanush.
Technically the film looks and sounds beautiful. I’ve been enjoying A.R. Rahman’s soundtrack since it was released and the songs are even better on screen. The only one that doesn’t work so well is ‘I Love My Africa’ which has poor justification and picturisation but on the whole the songs are well placed in the narrative. I often don’t notice the background score on the first watch of a film, but here it is sweetly evocative and the natural music of the ocean and the desert are added in for haunting effect, adding to the magic of the images. The excellent cinematography by Marc Koninckx perfectly captures coastal Tamil Nadu and the deserts of Africa, highlighting the contrasting light of the two locations and make the landscape just as much a feature of the film as the actors themselves.
Maryan is a film to watch for yet another amazing performance from Dhanush and equally impressive acting from Parvathy, while beautiful imagery and evocative music add to the overall effect. Even if the action part of the film doesn’t work quite so well, the love story is charming and inspiring. Watching Maryan you have to believe that true love really can conquer all and that’s a very heart-warming message to take home on a cold Melbourne winter night!
Hi Heather, as usual I like your review, my views are mostly like yours.
First time, Dhanush doesn’t slaps her, he just raises his hand. She stops talking to him because he raised his hand to hit her. Only in the graveyard after Appukutty’s death he kicked her and slapped, I was kinda ok with that, because he lost his best friend of his life, he feels guilty, because first time Appukutty went to sea with different crew and got shot ( Sri Lanka is pretty close from there, over 450 Tamil fishermen are shot by Sri Lankan navy, if you were wondering who shot them ). But what I really hated was after hitting her, when he comes to her home, he feels sorry for hitting her, but at the same time it is portrayed as normal, I wish director explained that he was in a shock, that’s why he behaved that way, but will never hit her again.
I guess you misunderstood, Appukutty is just a common friend to both Dhanush and Parvathy, not Parvathy’s brother. And the other friend’s name is Jagan, not Jayan. Salim Kumar and Dhanush shared the national award for the year 2011, it is his first Tamil film, I was wondering what kinda role he will be playing, but he was actually completely wasted, anybody could played his role. It is not fair to bring a powerful artist to your casting and give a dummy role. wish he was given few powerful scenes to showcase his talent to the Tamil audience. Unfortunately nobody noticed him, and not many aware that he was an national award winner ( the prestigious award in India ).
The screenplay in the second half could be lil different, but I m very disappointed even you ( an Aussie ) complaining about the pace of the film. I have problem with the screenplay, but absolutely no problem with the pace. If we can appreciate films like castaway, the life of pi, why can’t we appreciate lil slow, but powerful scenes. He was kept captive for 21 days and ran for 9 days, so 9 days running has to be elaborated ( it is a true life incident, Indians were kept captive for ransom, few years ago, they were working for a oil company, and those militants were pissed that their oil is getting stolen from their country, so the kidnapped and asked for some huge money, but I saw that many completely forgot that incident, though in the title card it is mentioned as True incident ). If you remember well there were lots of powerful scenes in the 2nd half, he ran only for max of 15-20 mins even then a wonderful song and some Indian portion were shown.
I can understand the guys who doesn’t watch any slow paced international movies are complaining that the film is slow and boring. But really very disappointed even you are echoing. If they show 10 jeeps driving here and there and the lead actor keeps challenging the villains one after another, they call the film is wonderful and so fast. No idea why it has to be so fast, why can’t we admire the beautiful acting, which we can admire only if the actors given enough time to perform.
The other night you told Maryan is 4/5, but now you have given 3/5. Maryan is a new kinda film, not a regular commercial crap, lots of effort were involved, especially those desert and underwater shots are mind blowing. Just for trying something new, in this grand manner itself I give 4/5.
3 stars to Crap Singam2 and Maryan is an insult to Maryan.
Thanks for your comment 🙂
Thanks also for picking up my spelling mistake – yes I did mean Jagan. I think he’s another fantastic actor and I loved him in Ayan. I hope we get to see more of him soon. The subtitles are to blame for me thinking that Sakkarai was Pani’s brother – sometimes they translate a little too literally 🙂
‘m not sure where you get the 3 rating from? I don’t rate films I’ve seen in the cinema here since I’ve only had a chance to see them once unlike the other films I write about. I also didn’t give Singham II a star rating but it definitely wasn’t on a par with Maryan!
I do think the pacing was slow in the second half – this was necessary given the nature of the story, but it was also uneven and could have been kept tighter, particularly in the scenes with the militants. However some of those were also some of the best in the film and the sheer power of Dhanush showing his emotions was just incredible. Like I said I found it uncomfortable to watch someone experience such extreme terror and fear – you really could feel those emotions very clearly.
I think Maryan is a fantastic film and I can’t wait for the DVD release!
Haha I agree, it must be the subtitle :).. In India if I meet a man who is little elder to me, I refer him as Anna ( Anna -> Elder Brother ). For example if that person name is Kumar, I refer him as Kumar Anna. So may be in some scene when Parvathy referred him as Anna, they might translated as brother, not sure, I did not follow the subtitle closely :).
Regarding the rating it was a misunderstanding.. I saw you have re tweeted someone’s review, he has given 3/5, I misunderstood it as ur rating, sorry for the confusion :). Yeah I know you dont give ratings to the film, but we discussed about Singam 2 few days back, I asked for ur rating for that movie then and u told me it is 2.5*.
“@heatherrmwilson how many stars for Singam 2 ? did u understand without sub title ? u bravo :P”
@GuruVinodh Ha ha! Probably about 2 1/2. It’s hard to rate a film when you don’t get the dialogue but the story is easy enough to understand
“@heatherrmwilson we want u to learn Tamil, that’s why no subs lol.. Kidding :). Where is the #Maryan #Mariyaan review ? How many stars ?”
“@GuruVinodh 🙂 Working on it now – probably a 4 if I was giving stars. Few issues with the screenplay in 2nd half, but Dhanush is amazing!”
In the tweet u told me 4 stars for Maryan and then I saw on ur re tweet 3 Stars ( it is not ur review, u have just re tweeted, but somehow I misunderstood it as ur rating ), So thats why I was wondering why you reduced that rating lol.
I really love your work, you are awesome, there are so many wonderful Tamil movies with very good Performance. I always thought without knowing the tamil culture these movies wont be understood by the foreign people. But the way you understand our stories makes me realize that the basic emotions are common through out the world.
My only concern in Maryan was the militants were shown like small group of Rogues with guns, not actually like a militants. If they showed a big gang of organized people and removed that party dance song, they would be considered more serious. But I know I am being unrealistic here, with Tamil film’s limited budget, whatever they showed on the screen was great, I certainly cant expect Blood Diamond kinda perfection here, cause I just checked the Blood Diamond’s budget, it Is 100 Million, Maryan Is 5 million, a HUGE gap in the budget, if they got 5 more million I m sure they would perfected the second half. Who knows increasing fans like you will help our films budget and class :).
June 6, 2008 (KHARTOUM) — An Indian oil worker escaped from his Sudanese kidnappers and was rescued after three days walking through open scrubland, his employer said on Thursday.
Sudanese rescue teams are using helicopters to search for another Indian man who escaped at the same time. Two more Indians and their Sudanese driver are thought to be still in captivity, said Mohamed Arif Khan, head of Petro Energy Contracting Services.
“We are all very worried, particularly for the second man who escaped,” Khan told Reuters. The four Indians and their driver were seized in mid-May between the Neem and Heglig oil fields in South Kordofan, a region that borders Darfur, diplomatic sources said at the time.
Khan said the escaped worker had told him the captors appeared to be disaffected locals.
“They are involved in a local dispute…They are not a political group. They are not an organised group.”
The start of the film does state that this is based on a true story and Bharat Bala has talked about meeting these men in a few interviews.
It’s an amazing story.
Mariyaan is just-around-picture-perfect right from title to credits. The movie has four amazing elements that make it a visual treat: Parvathi, Mark, Dhanush and Rahman (in that order). Parvathi has put out a stellar performance. It is only a pity that much of the limelight is given only to the hero. Whether it is romance or her yearning for mariyaan’s return, she has captured the emotions well and transferred it to the viewer. Secondly Mark has done a phenomenal work with his camera. The rolling scene in the desert and the scene under water with water on the lens are too good. A regular Tamil viewer will not notice the intricacies of the shots but a careful watch of Nenjae Ezhu will show some exquisite shots with panimalar’s hair and water. Dhanush has canned out yet another good performance. Though the first half is more of a regulation character, the sufferings in the second half are well portrayed. The phone call scene and the imaginary treat stand out. Rahman, of course can simply not produce less-than-extraordinary music. Enga pona raasa, as I had said in my audio review, is simply the best in the album and he has used it widely in his background score. Uma Riyaz, Appukutty, Jagan and Annachi have done their roles perfectly. The only flaw in the movie is the editing and if some unwanted scenes had been trimmed, it would have been great. As far as the slow-screenplay is concerned, I think it suited the movie perfectly. The hallucinations are an awesome part of the movie. My final verdict is that it is a movie beyond Kollywood. PS: Just like all films where the heroine follows the hero (NEP etc.), this will not be acceptable to the local lads. Moreover, Tamil audience (in general) have no sense of appreciating art and hence they laugh (like idiots) when Dhanush speaks on the phone, when he calls out Aathaa in the climax, when Jagan looks into a mirror and the leopard scene. Bharath Bala deserves credit for the performances he has extracted, the story and for casting Parvathi.
Thanks for your comment.
I do agree that this is one of the rare Tamil films where the ‘heroine’ actually has a substantial role, and Parvathi was excellent. Dhanush is brilliant when it comes to portraying emotions and it’s the first time I think I’ve seen such terror and shock portrayed so naturally in a film.
I think it’s more the unevenness of the screenplay in the second half – particularly in the scenes with the African terrorists but the hallucination scenes were brilliantly done.
I can’t wait for this to come out on DVD so that I can see it again and appreciate all the details.
Can you give me the link to your audio review please?
I just finished watching this and am not still quite sure what I think about it. I guess I had a hard time getting along with the chemistry between the two leads, and also had a hard time understanding how Dhanush took such a long time to finally accept uber-hottie Parvathy as a potential girlfriend. I mean, come on man, really? Still, I guess it was somewhat of a refreshing changeup to see the female lead chase her male crush for once, instead the much more traditional cinematic structure of the other way around.
I actually started enjoying the film a lot more once the kidnapping started. These parts had an urgency and excitement to them that the rest of the film seemed to lack. The African caricatures, as you pointed out, were disappointing and one-dimensional, unlike the interesting character study in a similar hostage crisis movie like ‘Captain Philips’ (2012), where Barkhad Abdi turned a great performance humanizing and deepening his antagonistic “bad guy.”
Technically I found the film a lot more sound than its writing. The soundtrack was consistently great and the surreal imagery was appropriately symbolic. My only quip in this area is that the director uses slow-mo waaaay too much, particularly in the goofy fistfight between Dhanush and Theekkurissi’s gang.
Very good review!
Thanks for your comment 🙂 I loved Dhanush in this, but have to admit that I’ve only re-watched the songs since I got the DVD! I must make time to sit down and watch it all again.
I don’t remember the romance as being particularly slow to develop, but like you I did enjoy watching Pani chase her man down 🙂 I think Maryan was just a typical SI male – more interested in hanging round with his mates than starting a relationship – which with a local girl would have meant commitment and marriage, so I could understand his reluctance.
I completely agree that the kidnap scenes were excellent (apart from the African gang – sigh. I haven’t seen Captain Philips, but I have read good reviews about the actors in that). Dhanush was just amazing! The other scenes that really stood out for me were the ones of Pani believing so strongly that Maryan would come home. I thought Parvathi was excellent, and have a few more of her films in the pile to watch.
I just had a look at your website – a very diverse mix of films there 🙂
I see, that behavior of an adolescent Dhanush makes more sense if he knows he has to commit rather than just date around. I guess I’m still getting used to understanding South Asian social customs behavior, particularly when the films follow working class families from smaller villages.
Also, thanks for taking a look around the Express Elevator! I’m glad you think it’s a diverse lineup, cause that’s the exact the flavor I was going for. I’m trying to watch as many good films from as many places as possible 😀
That was my take – having worked in small villages in South India I have seen at first hand the conservative attitudes which still seem to be the majority view. So flirting with a college girl in the city is a completely different kettle of fish to starting a relationship with a local girl in a small community 🙂
I could of course be totally wrong, and the character really was just an idiot!