Marakkar: Lion of the Arabian Sea is the kind of film only an ambitious filmmaker could make. Priyadarshan's penchant to dream big and execute bigger is written all over it.
The much-awaited Mohanlal-starrer is notable for its scale. It's high drama in every sense.
The big budget multilingual is epic in genre and emotional at its core. It draws its essence from history and uses imagination in abundance to stitch its plots and sketch characters. The result: a typical period drama with its share of ups and downs.
Set in the 16th century Malabar, the film tells the story of Kunjali Marakkar IV, the admiral of the fleet of the Samoothiri. With little to learn about him from history, Priyadarshan makes his own Kunjali for the film Marakkar. In Priyadarshan's realm of imagination, Kunjali's story starts with a romance that ends up in a tragedy. From there, it's all about his heroics. Like all epic heroes, he is a genius, a saviour and a warrior. He has a gang of loyalists and a set of enemies. He is cheated more than once. Mohanlal comes on screen as the grown-up Kunjali, as rough as a sea, while Pranav Mohanlal plays the charming young Kunjali.
On the narrative side, the script, by Priyadarshan and Ani Sasi takes much from the traditional drama with a mix of action and melodrama. Long sequences and lofty dialogues make it more dramatic.
Priyadarshan's undisputed sense of visuals come to the front in Marakkar too. Tirru's stunning cinematography and Sabu Cyril's revelry in production design and Siddharth Priyadarshan's mastery in visual effects make it a visual treat. The perfection one may expect from the veteran filmmaker, however, is missing occasionally, especially during stunts.
With a running time of three hours, Marakkar explains a lot about Malabar's history with a main plot involving Marakkar's fight against the Portugese and a sub-plot revolving around a romance between his Chinese loyalist Chinali (Jay J Jakkrit) and Aarcha, a royal girl (Keerthy Suresh). The film has a star-cast indeed. Apart from Malayalam veterans like Nedumudi Venu, Siddique and Mukesh, Tamil stars Arjun and Prabhu and
Bollywood's Suniel Shetty play pivotal roles. Mohanlal keeps his fans entertained with abundant action and a right dose of emotion. With the body language of a warrior and the mannerisms of a noble man, Arjun does an impressing act.
Apart from Keerthy Suresh, Manju Warrier essays an important role while Suhasini and Kalyani Priyadarshan join the cast for only a couple of sequences. The film has an intriguing musical track with five songs and a distinct background score. However, they sound far away from the vintage Priyadarshan films.
Marakkar is undoubtedly the biggest film by the Priyadarshan-Mohanlal combo, but not the best by the two.