'Maharathi': Contrived and implausible!
Review By Deepa Gahlot
About a quarter of century later, Shivam Nair brings the play to the screen, casts some of the finest actors, and wastes all but Paresh Rawal. The other parts simply did not require the combined prodigious talents of Naseeruddin Shah, Boman Irani and Om Puri-- it is a Paresh Rawal show all the way. (One can see why Rawal was so keen to get the play converted to film.)
Shah plays an alcoholic, once powerful filmmaker Jaisingh Adenwala, who lives in a huge, shabby, overstuffed bungalow that looks like bad stage set. He has a young, virago of a wife, Mallika (Neha Dhupia—shouting out her lines), and a shifty lawyer Merchant (Boman Irani).
One day, a small time crook Subhash (Paresh Rawal) saves Adenwala's life after a drunken car crash, and insinuates himself into the household. Ill, in debt and sick of his wife, Adenwala decides to commit suicide, so that Mallika cannot get her hands on his Rs 24 crore insurance policy, unless she can prove it was murder.
The wily Subhash convinces her to put the body in a large freezer that just happens to be around, and weaves a complicated scheme, by which they can prove that Adenwala was murdered and split the booty. To have an alibi on hand, they hire a housekeeper Swati (Tara Sharma).
Of course the plan starts going wrong, and it takes all of Subash's guts and brains to stay ahead of the game—not to mention acting skills that enable him to wring out tears when needed, and look all helpless when he is actually putting his adversary into a tight spot.
Despite all its cleverness, the plot is contrived and quite implausible, and since most of the film is set in one house, the action is mostly static. The acting style also borders on the theatrical, and it looks like the investigating cop's (Om Puri) role was curtailed to keep running time in check.
Paresh Rawal is quite capable of holding a film all by himself, and despite some overacting he does—but if he emerges as the 'hero' here, it's because the writer handed him all the right moves on a platter. And what a pity to have Naseeruddin Shah locked in a freezer for most of the film. It would have been fun to see Rawal and Shah in an acting duel. That would have made 'Maharathi' a worthwhile watch; now it's comme ci comme ca.
Source: India Syndicate
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