A perfect Indian war film that has been directed by Priyadarshan, Marakkar, is now finally here. The movie has got its digital release on the OTT platform of Amazon Prime. The movie stars Mohanlal, Suniel Shetty, Manju Warrier, Keerthy Suresh, Mukesh, Pranav and many more. The movie is available in two regional languages, i.e. Tamil and Malayalam. Marakkar: Lion of the Arabian Sea is the movie that is based on the admiral of the fleet of the Zamorin, fourth Kunjali Marakkar. So, now let’s find out if the movie is worth spending time watching or not.
MARAKKAR: LION OF THE ARABIAN SEA – A REVIEW
Priyadarshan’s ambitious film Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham is about Kunjali Marakkar, a warrior who fought in the army of the Zamorin in 16th century Kozhikode and was instrumental in defending the coast from the Portuguese. The details of his life are sketchy, and the film acknowledges this right away. As a result, what unfolds is a fictional account of war, betrayal, loyalty, and grandeur that draws inspiration from several other stories of war, betrayal, loyalty, and grandeur.
The movie visuals are stunning. It has everything from the dreamy song sequence between young Kunjali that is played by Pranav Mohanlal and his bride that is played by Kalyani Priyadarshan to the stormy seas and bloodied battlefield. Pranav’s resemblance to Mohanlal, who plays the older Kunjali, aids in the smooth and believable transition of the character. Kunjali is his mother’s (Suhasini’s) favourite son, and she bestows a religious charm on him to keep him safe. Even as Kunjali prepares for his wedding, trouble is brewing around him, with the Portuguese looking to gain a foothold in the region through trade.
The Zamorin played by Nedumudi Venu, his military advisor played by Harish Peeradi, the latter’s sons i.e. Arjun Sarja and Ashok Selvan, played by Siddique as uncle of Kunjali, the Panickers who were once kings and Suniel Shetty is one among them, and others are all present. The challenge is to make at least a few of them memorable, but the film’s writing falls short here. The characters are all painted black or white, with broad strokes defining their personalities.
As a result, the audience is unsurprised by the betrayals and conspiracy theories. Despite the predictability and theatrical staging of the scenes, Innocent and Mammukoya are reliable veterans in the cast who provide a few laughs.
Zubeida, the wife of a man played by Manju Warrier who fought alongside Kunjali but was killed by him inadvertently. The actor gets the short end of the stick, playing a predictable, poorly written role with little room for interpretation. Despite the limited screen time, it is perhaps only Prabhu, who appears as a Tamil warrior in Marakkar’s group, who has an impact. Kunjali and Thangudu’s friendship is reminiscent of Mohanlal and Prabhu’s on-screen chemistry in Priyadarshan’s Kaalapani.
Archa, played by Keerthy Suresh, is a young woman who causes a major shift in loyalties between the warring factions. But, once again, we know very little about Archa except that she is talented in music and dance. Romance of Archa with a Chinese man that is played by Jay J. Jakkrit – his dialogue is limited to saying “Mama,” but he does not leave a chance to impress in the action scenes and is explained away with a cliched song. But that is only the beginning of the film’s issues.
If the idea of a mother bestowing divine protection on her son struck you as vaguely familiar, the parallel to Troy becomes more pronounced in the second half. From Achilles’ rage over Patroclus’ death to his subsequent vengeance on the morally upright Hector, Marakkar draws liberally from the film based on Homer’s Iliad.
The fight sequences are well choreographed, but wires are clearly visible. Mohanlal has a commanding screen presence, but he lacks the agility required for the role. His dialogues are also uninspiring and repetitive after a while, reiterating the “mannum pennum” premise far too frequently. We don’t get the feeling of sorry for Kunjali at the end of Marakkar, as he remains the same hazy, mythical figure that he is on Wikipedia.
There’s a lot of tension between the main characters, but it’s hard to tell from the scenes. You will get the impression that one of the characters doesn’t want the best for the other, but the writing of the movie makes these scenes feel lifeless. Even the dependable Mohanlal keeps on struggling to keep the film floating, as he is not that convincing in the film’s most crucial emotional scenes.
It seems as if he was not interested in embracing the character of Marakkar well, as it was required for the movie and it could have been handled better and even written a little better. As you walk out of the theatre, you start to wonder what earned this film a National Award.