With its lead character (Vikram) named ‘Gandhi Mahaan’, the film opens with a Mahatma Gandhi quote pointing towards the freedom to make mistakes. Ironically, the project seems to be the same (a mistake), wherein director Karthik Subbaraj repeats an age-old plot of a simpleton turning into a gangster, followed by a questionable twist in the end.
Attempted as an epic creation, Mahaan begins with a black and white flashback introducing a group of kids gambling and fighting with each other. It gradually moves further, spanning decades from the late ‘60s to the new millennium, but takes too much time in the build-up, almost the entire first half. The familiar story progression finally finds its grip in the concluding hour, but that too gets marred by a prolonged over-the-top climax.
Apart from a stale plot, the biggest problem in Mahaan is the over-elaboration of events that becomes tiresome after a while, lacking the desired novelty. It also doesn’t work as the major twists remain unconvincing, like the transformation of a common man (in his 40s) just after one night of outing, with no looking back. Besides, neither the Gandhian ideology comes up as a hard-hitting inclusion in the storyline, nor do the emotions reach that height, forcing you to feel for the characters.
Trying too many things in its last hour, Mahaan is an over-ambitious project, stressing upon a weirdly written character played by Dhruv Vikram and the sudden father-son rivalry. Vikram keeps trying hard in the entire film, giving an effective performance, but the winner among all remains Bobby Simha (Sathyavan), as his partner in crime. Simran enacts well along with the rest of the cast. But nothing excels as it should in the film’s lengthy 160 minutes duration.
Despite interesting camerawork, innovatively designed (one-shot) action sequences, and a heavy background score, Mahaan somehow remains floating at the surface, missing the expected visual flair. The narration also gets lost in too many ideas thrown at us, like the symbolic names as Gandhi Mahaan and Dadabhai Naoroji, references of ‘freedom-fighters’, movements against liquor production and inter-cuts of graphical playing cards in between the crucial scenes.
With so much happening on the screen, it turns out to be a high-on-concept film, with nothing new to deliver, satisfying the excited audience. Overall, it certainly needs some courage to go through this self-indulgent, pointless creation, falling way short of its title as Mahaan.
Title: Mahaan (Tamil)
Cast: Vikram, Simran, Dhruv Vikram, Bobby Simha, and more
Director: Karthik Subbaraj
Platform: Amazon Prime Video
Rating: 2 Stars