Maara - It is both similar and different to Charlie!
What happens when a kid who grew up hearing fantasy stories from her grandmother happens to experience one in her adult life? This is just one way of looking at Maara. Another way of looking at it is how that if you look around there is enough magic to be cherished even in the mundane of things. Paaru (Shraddha Srinath) gets fascinated by a character (Maara played by Madhavan) by experiencing a certain aura or imprint that he has left behind on things and lives that he has come in touch with. This POV of Paaru is the essence of Maara and we see Maara's world through her eyes. For the other characters, Maara is probably just a vagabond. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder!
I remember only bits of Charlie and it was a sort of a pleasant visual experience. Not that I did not like the film but compared to the other prominent Malayalam films that I saw around that time, Charlie didn't exactly get me going. Remakes are dicey and as easy as they seem they are also difficult in so many ways. Moreso when it comes to a film like Charlie which wasn't that much about plot points as it was about creating a sort of visual poetry on screen. Maara in all fairness is a fine remake that does maintain the essence of the original and also tries to improvise at places.
Visually this film deserved a watch on the big screen and I am sure the impact would have been so much better. The technical team has done a splendid job and irrespective of whether you are into the narrative or not, you are bound to be intrigued by the visuals and Ghibran's score. The solid casting too works. Stepping into Parvathy's shoes isn't easy but Shraddha is very good right through and is a gorgeous presence on screen. While Charlie was a livewire, Madhavan's Maara is a subdued version. It isn't even like two actors playing the same character but Maara and Charlie look like different characters by themselves. And Mouli is terrific. What could have become easily melodramatic is kept in check with his fine performance.
The good thing about Maara is that those who enjoyed Charlie won't be disappointed and there are enough tweaks as well. Paaru's part in contributing to the romance of the elderly couple for instance. While Maara is definitely a different personality compared to Charlie, this also robs the Tamil version a certain effervescence and mystery that was synonymous with the titular character in Malayalam.
A fine remake that has its own share of hits and misses. But the best thing about Maara is that it is both similar and different to Charlie!