Karthik Subbaraj’s Vikram ‘Padam’ Mahaan review: Gambling with the burden of legacies

Vikram starrer 'Mahaan' is directed by Karthik Subbaraj.

Mahaan is yet another Karthik Subbaraj ‘Padam’ with hues of gangster traits, after Rajni’s ‘Petta’ and Dhanush starrer ‘Jagame Thandhiram’. In these reels, you can feast on Chiyaan Vikram carrying out the burden of an illustrious family legacy, only to stray into a wobbly path of wanton destruction.

The burden of legacy here is from the perspective of a seemingly third-in-a-trot ‘gangsteresque plot’ from Karthik Subbaraj’s lab, as well as the lead character’s travails in coping up with lofty expectations of his ‘Gandhian’ lineage.

Mahaan is not a straight fit into the gangster genre, but gradually veers into it, by default.

Yes, our small town boy is as naughty as anyone of his age, but Gandhiji’s lofty ideals are seeped in his blood lineage right from grandfather to his father – Aadukalam Naren – who wants “Gandhi Mahaan” to carry on the illustrious family legacy.

Little do they think about the ‘simple joys’ of life which Gandhi Mahaan buries to follow the path laid out to him by hard-core Gandhian elders.

As Gandhi Mahaan struggles with this imposed persona in life through to his adulthood, he steals some joys like going for movies without his wife and son’s knowledge.

Now, Nachi, his wife, is another product of a deep-rooted Gandhian outlook in the form of his father’s friend’s daughter and there is no way out for our hapless hero but to play out the pre-determined script.

On his 40th birthday, as his wife and son goes for a Tirupati trip, Gandhi Mahaan unleashes his suppressed aspirations – living a day without the halo of Gandhian moorings.

Bobby Simha as Sathyavan in Mahaan.
Actor Bobby Simha. Photo: IANS

That chaotic day leads to a bar, a gambling den and a chance meeting with his childhood foe, who is also carrying out the legacy of has family business of booze with elan. So a hero with anti-liquor legacy turns up at a booze den – a perfect setting for an anti-hero trip.

Needless to say the reckless day turns out to be a defining twist in Gandhi Mahaan’s life and therein lies the latest Karthick Subbaraj movie’s heart of the matter.

'Pona Poyura' from Vikram-starrer 'Mahaan' released.
Chiyaan Vikram (R) and Dhruv Vikram

Like his hero and his childhood pal, Karthick Subbaraj also carries on the legacy of Petta, with a host of his favourite picks lining up in Mahaan to don supportive roles for Chiyaan Vikram’s Gandhi Mahaan – right from Aadukalam Naren, Bobby Simha, Muthukumar, Sanath and Murugavel to Simran.

On the music front, Anirudh Ravichander had to be replaced with Santhosh Narayanan.

Dinesh Subbarayan has superbly orchestrated the stunt scene in which Vikram emerges as the guardian angel of his pal Satyavan, but then, in the rest of the strife, guns come into play.

Karthick Subbaraj’s penchant for deep twists come into play again in Mahaan’s latter part. But certainly, the momentum gets a huge boost after the break. All sorts of emotions, be it father-son dynamics or rift between friends are interspersed in the plot from then on.

Chiyan Vikram, Bobby Simha and Muthukumar play pivotal roles in the tense drama, though Dhruv and Sanath may not have achieved their level in this classic interplay of misplaced notions and “shoved in moralities”, as our protagonist himself yells at one point of time.

Mahaan is a must watch, though from now on we would like to move on to some other unfamiliar terrain.

Mahaan is streaming on Amazon Prime.

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