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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Madhura Raja movie review: Mammootty’s wisecracks save the day

Madhura Raja movie review: Mammootty keeps the mood light with his strong performance. Mindless entertainers are a great way to veg out after a long week. Vysakh and his team have whipped up a high-calorie cheat meal.

Rating: 3 out of 5
Written by Manoj Kumar R | Bengaluru | Updated: April 13, 2019 10:35:34 pm
Madhura Raja movie review Madhura Raja movie review: Mammootty has brought his A-game to the film.

Madhura Raja movie cast: Mammootty, Jai, Jagapathi Babu, Siddique, Vijayaraghavan, Nedumudi Venu, Salim Kumar, Suraj Venjaramoodu
Madhura Raja movie director: Vysakh
Madhura Raja movie rating: 3 stars

At a time when the audience is seemingly growing tired of hero-worshipping tales, when the ‘masala’ genre is losing its charm due to filmmakers stale approach to it, and just when we think Mammootty is done playing age-inappropriate roles, along comes a film like Madhura Raja that rejuvenates our taste for star vehicles. Who doesn’t like a good laugh? Even critics, who yelp in pain for being subjected to third-grade formula films every Friday, need relief.

Make no mistake, Madhura Raja is a commercial potboiler by the book. But, director Vysakh’s blingy treatment to the narration sets it apart from the crowd. It is highly likely that you may leave the theater with a smile on your face as opposed to the state of confusion wondering whether you wasted the last three hours of your precious life.

Madhura Raja is the sequel to Malayalam superstar Mammootty’s 2010 lowbrow comedy, Pokkiri Raja. It traces the new adventure of Raja (Mammootty), who looks younger than ever. It is as if Mammootty has some superpower which he uses to stop ageing. Come on, what’s the deal?

Be that as it may, Mammootty has brought his A-game to the film but treads cautiously so as to avoid getting into Kasaba-like predicaments.

For me, Pokkiri Raja was an over-the-top, borderline parody on Tamil films which lean heavily on old-school machismo to click with the audience. The film was too ridiculous to take it seriously. The buffoonery is the DNA of the ‘Raja’ franchise. And that came as a breath of fresh air among other films with heroes who took themselves very seriously.

I was rather shocked when Madhura Raja opened with an emotionally heavy scene. Even as Pokkiri Raja takes off with a couple of deaths, all those tragedies were bereft of melodrama. In other words, they did not shock us. But, the opening minutes of Madhura Raja just does the opposite. Just a few minutes into the movie, an honest police officer (played by Narain), who is also a caring husband and a loving father to two girl children, is torn into pieces by Inaayaka Mohanam’s (Jagapathi Babu) man-eating bloodhounds.

The story is set in an island in Kochi. Like in the first film, Raja’s father again gets kicked in the chest by a dishonest cop at the police station. Granted that the mainstay of the film is Raja’s antics, we hardly worry about the plot. And that really works in the movie’s favour.

Raja being Raja makes an entry with hundreds of small motorboats following him. The fishermen boats were a replacement for his motorcade of 40 Innovas. And then he sets the ball rolling by speaking his hallmark broken English. He now apparently holds a doctorate from Uganda university and he is also the patriarch of a new political party called South Indian Federation Party. Why politics, you ask. He felt that Tamil Nadu was in need of a strong political leader after passing of ‘Amma’. And just like that, I was at ease that Raja still doesn’t take himself seriously. If anything, he has just doubled down on his buffoonery.

Given that this is election season, Raja’s wisecracks have strong political undertones. He even contests a byelection. He distributes freebies with his face embossed on them and underlines the difference between how elections are fought in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. He advocates people to rise above the barriers of caste, religion, and other differences for humanity and “vote for a change”.

The film gets very heavy at frequent intervals thanks to the antagonist’s psychopathic methods to end his rivals. The scenes involving hunting dogs, which is choreographed by stunt master Peter Hein, made me look away from the screen a couple of times.

Mammootty, however, keeps the mood light with his strong performance. Mindless entertainers are a great way to veg out after a long week. Vysakh and his team have whipped up a high-calorie cheat meal.

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