Maradona opens with a wounded, bleeding man running in a grass hooded hillside. 'Why' and 'From whom' are the questions that the film tries to answer slowly as the story unveils. Only in second half, we get that he has bashed an MLA's son, Aravindan, to almost death and is hiding from the cops and goons now. The characters he meet during this hide-out phase.. with a fractured leg and a locked up flat set a 'Rear Window' sort of atmosphere.
In many ways, Maradona can be a prequel to Mayanadhi. Minus the love track, it can be easily looked up as Maathan's early days. Here too, like Mayanadhi.. two investigation officers are in search for Maradona. If Maathan is a survivor who keeps escaping and never looked back.. Maradona comes up as someone who is a victim of his own life and circumstances. And at one point, he comes to terms with his past and meaningless life.
Tovino Thomas is brilliant. In a tailor-made role of a survivor in run, he bears the weight of the film in his face. He could effectively hold a close-up for a minute and still leave you with an impact of the shot. The peaking boredom in the house where he is left all alone and the wrecklessness of his empty life is delicately brought out with his performance. The scenes like one where he has his redemption in rain, coming over his acrophobia are a solid statement that he is emerging as one of the finest actors of our times.
Near climax, Maradona surrenders. He visits the guy he bashed and tells his mother that he is the man behind all this. And when given a chance to escape.. he waits to meet his father as well. For a while, I wish the film ends right there.. with him daring enough to end it all on his own. But it keeps extending to him meeting and having a blood dropping Sholay like conversation with his friend.. followed by a fight with cops who were asked to finish them. Just when you think it falls on a flat note, the end is riveting.
Tito Wilson as Sudhi is equally mesmerising. The bromance of Tovino and Tito is beautifully conceived. The last conversations they share about leaving the past behind and seeking a salvation in their love are deep. But I wish Maradona's reason to lead a rogue goon life is explored and given better explanations. We don't see him giving it up all with just simple questions from his lover. And the family which host him as a help never care to ask about his leaving even post his cure. We are even told that they treated him like a brother. But the loose connect of the interreligious marriage and the help asked by the host's in-law doesn't hold gripping with his this fairly extended stay.
The casting of Asha, though she got a great 'the door-next girl' look, is also too underwhelming for being the only hope to look forward in the wasted life of someone like Maradona. Hence the life altering moral questions she throw on Maradona doesn't really hit us. Also how come she doesn't know about the theft claim he is charged with is never explained. She calls him at the end like nothing mattered to her. The jump is too jarring to buy.
Shalu Rahim who plays Aravindan demands attention. (The actor who is earlier seen in Kammattipaadam as young Dulquer Salmaan) There is something raw and real about the way he performs. Despite the screen time he occupies, he leaves his presence very rigidly. There are several other interesting characters.. A lover boy who tells Maradona that manliness is not in beating.. An old man who sends him cigarette through drone.. They all submerge in his world without popping out as odd fits.
Deepak D Menon's cinematography is breathtaking at places. The aerial view shots of the apartment buildings give us a perfect picture of the disassociated existence of Maradona from the world. The cliff fight sequences are choreographed with a terrific sense of realism to it. Had to mention Saiju Sreedharan's editing for keeping the mundane life of Maradona engagingly connected through cuts.
Sushin Shyam's 'Aparaada Panka' is a haunting adrenaline rush! The background score along with a chilling Hitchcockian screech and rumbles at time put you one among the characters. The technical supremacy that supports this film deserves a huge applause.
The film ends on a fascinating point. Maradona leaves to West Bengal with Aravindan. He calls him 'Mudhalaali' now, which is how he used to call Sudhi. He leaves back his past and starts for a journey with Aravindan who couldn't remember his past. This sprouting friendship that's hinted is novel. And perhaps, Maradona, for such reasons is a sheer example of what writers can bring to the table given they get the freedom they need.
Bottomline : Maradona, directed by Vishnu Narayan, is an interestingly presented thriller that doesn't drop its wholesome mood anywhere. In other words, yet another film that firmly declares
Tovino Thomas has arrived as an actor.
Rating : 3.5/5