Starring Sivakarthikeyan in the lead role, Maaveeran puts a different spin on the superhero trope. It won't be wrong to say that this film has achieved a breakthrough in the superhero genre.
It's said that director Madonne Ashwin had approached legendary Kamal Haasan to lend his voice to his latest directorial outing Maaveeran. And owing to scheduling issues, Kamal was not able to take on the job. If you watch the movie, you will know why Madonne wanted Kamal's voice for the movie. The comic sketch of Maaveeran in the movie bears an uncanny similarity to a young Kamal. And if the director had managed to get Kamal to play 'The Voice' it would have elevated the film's entertainment value to another level.
Starring Sivakarthikeyan in the lead role, Maaveeran puts a different spin on the superhero trope. It won't be wrong to say that this film has achieved a breakthrough in the superhero genre. Budget constraints have often hindered filmmakers in India from exploring this genre extensively. One cannot imagine a superhero movie with extensive visual effects without requiring a substantial financial investment. In recent times, there have been some significant strides in this respect. For example, Basil Joseph stunned everyone with Minnal Murali, a medium-budget superhero movie with a strong emotional core, evolved storytelling and memorable performances. Earlier this year, we had Veeran, starring Hiphop Tamizha . Taking a leaf out of Basil's playbook, director ARK Saravan created a movie about a man who gains superpower after being struck by lightning. While Veeran was not as good as Minnal Murali, it was not half bad, thanks to Saravan's expertise in comedy writing.
With Maaveeran, Madonne further strips away the challenges around the superhero genre. In Maaveeran, Sivakarthikeyan plays a comic artist named Sathya. He is obsessed with self-preservation after witnessing the tragic fate of his father, who fought for the greater good. Sathya vows to to steer clear of any moral obligations that require him to question men in power. He's convinced that he can just overcome any problem by killing his self-respect and developing a superhuman-level tolerance for injustice. Yes, he's a coward.
Now, Madonne could have taken a tried-and-tested route of creating a situation where after a dramatic incident, Sathya ends up at the door of an underground dojo, where he learns everything there is to know about martial arts and turn into a lethal weapon at a break-neck speed. And the movie could have followed his crusade for justice in the form of revenge. Instead, Madonne introduces a supernatural element in the narration.
Dissatisfied with his inability to even provide basic protection to his mother and sister, Sathya decides to commit suicide. Metaphorically speaking, this act represents the death of the coward, giving rise to Maaveeran, "the great warrior." Sathya ends up in a hospital bed in a state of coma and wakes up with a voice in his head. 'The Voice', played by Vijay Sethupathi, grants Sathya an advantage by foretelling future events, enabling him to overcome challenges such as dodging a sword aimed at his throat.
However, Sathya is not ready to listen to his inner voice. And it becomes a metaphor for ordinary people, suppressing their urge to raise their voices against injustice due to fear and self-preservation. Sathya's mind becomes a battleground between the coward and the warrior, as he struggles to align himself with The Voice, knowing that once he embarks on that path, there is no turning back—a fate he wishes to avoid. So he ignores his inner voice as much as he could until his life is in danger. Again out of the sheer drive for self-preservation, Sathya takes advantage of The Voice and prevails over his enemies. However, he's still acting out of his self-interest. He can only fulfill his destiny as Maaveeran when he fights for the common good, just like his father.
Once you buy into the mythology of the movie, Maaveeran provides wholesome entertainment. You don't always need "the world is under attack" trope to convcie a superhero movie. "One is not worthy of being called Maaveeran, if he's not fighting for the rights of common people," declares Sathya at one point.
Maaveeran pulls you in with the relatability of Sathya's character and taps into our moral urge to see the hero fight against injustice while keeping us in splits with its impeccable sense of humour.
Madonne has proved that one can make a superhero movie without worrying about the big budget that it entails if there is an abundance of imagination and a good grasp of craft.