Maharshi was given a moderately positive review by us when the film hit the screens exactly a year ago on 9 May. Unfortunately, the film which was released amidst huge expectations failed to reach them. Fortunately, it became the biggest grosser in Mahesh's career till that point and enjoyed a sustained run at the box office. It was not a huge blockbuster per se. But not a bad result. We're re-evaluating the film now on the occasion of its first anniversary.
Mahesh holds Maharshi dear to his heart and uncharacteristically he many times expressed this Vamshi Paidipally directorial is close to his heart. He even lifted his collar when saying this much to the delight of his fans but anti-fans quickly trolled him. A new phenomenon for Mahesh who was mostly universally loved by one and all. He was also the first big Star to visibly unite the fans of all stars so that fan wars could be ended. Why? Is the film misunderstood? Or the film was really flawed?
Purpose of re-evaluating
This writer who was disappointed with the film when it was released, now thinks it is an essential film and would do even better now. In current conditions. Why? Has this writer changed his mind? Or he has discovered a new angle in the film? Dive in to find out.
Superstar Mahesh Babu is one of the few South Indian actors with a pan-India appeal and commands a huge fan following all over the country. Surprisingly, none of his films are made on pan-India scale. In his two-decades-long career as a lead actor, the Tollywood's Prince charming has several landmark roles and has delivered some of the most memorable films in recent times.
Off-late, he has turned his attention towards films with a blend of commercial elements and a socially relevant point, a formula successfully nailed by Tamil hero Vijay. Which in turn causes his roles becoming monotonous like the expressions of the Tamil Star hero, and films all too predictable.
Maharshi is the 25th film in his career. That he has completed two decades as a lead actor is a sweet moment for his fans, and add to that he has a successful track record as a child artist where he enjoyed considerable stardom makes him a special talent in Indian Cinema.
Never in any film industry, an actor has seen such stardom both as a child artist and lead actor, let alone create numerous box office records. Only Leonardo DiCaprio comes to mind who has successfully turned a lead actor after a relatively successful career as a juvenile actor.
Srimanthudu, Bharath Ane Nenu, and Maharshi. All these films follow the same pattern. All these films are successful in one way or the other. But none are matching the quality and impact of Mahesh's previous films like Okkadu, Pokiri, Dookudu, and obviously 1: Nenokkadine. Why so?
Despite all this, Maharshi as a film has a story that is strongly resonating with our times. Our hero Rishi (Mahesh is really great as this college-going youngster) is ambitious. Has a goal. He works for it. He doesn't let anything and anyone come in between. Not even love. Not even friends. Not even his parents. He's a man with a mission and works only for that.
Think of a Steve Jobs whose sole concern in his early life was to establish Apple amidst the stalwarts like Hewlett Packard (HP) and IBM. He wants to create an operating system with AI at its core. An innovator like Elon Musk. He was so ambitious and so sure of his ability like a quintessential Ayn Rand hero that he doesn't take the offer given by the MNC in the campus interview but himself gives them a counter offer which they cannot refuse.
Isn't he the hero we all aspire to be. Modern day youngsters. Such characters and characterizations never go out of fashion. To move the world forward, we need heroes like that. We need to become heroes like that. It is on the shoulders of the youth that the rebuilding of our world in the post-Corona world. Rishi is the right man. He's a man with a mission after all. As his best friend Shiva says: Rishi has taken a matter into his hands, means - it's done. He time and again proves this.
All these don't mean Rishi is not a man without compassion and humanly emotions. On the contrary. The guy who looked down upon his father for not getting success in life rushes to the native village of his friend Shiva when he comes to know the sacrifice Shiva has done for him. It's a journey from individualism to interdependence. Like every journey should become. First we start as individuals. Then everything is interconnected. In this world. Everyone must coexist. He does this when he becomes the youngest CEO of his company, Origin.
He first wanted to take his friend away from his mundane life. But when he understands the aim of his friend, he decides to help him achieve it. After all, a man with a mission can only understand another man with a mission. Methods vary. Efforts vary. But the intensity remains the same. Just like there is only one God but many methods to reach. Work is worship. Reaching a goal is reaching God. Think of it like that. Achieving one's life goal is nirvana. Rishi has already attained it. Now, he's giving that nirvana to his friend. He succeeds in this. And makes his friend succeed.
Another aspect in this film that is worth remembering and appreciating is the way the importance of agriculture is stressed. It may be for the sake of the plot of the film. It may be with a commercial interest. But what's stressed in the film should not be taken lightly. After all it is a farmer who produces the most essential goods for the world to live. Food. The importance of a farmer and food can be understood when we think about how it would be if there are no farmers and no food. Only another great evolution over a thousand years can achieve that. That too: conditions apply.
Things to ponder
As everyone consumes food, everyone has a duty towards farming and farmers. Weekend farming may be a fashionable fad. But it's a practical method which we all can do. We should commend a commercial filmmaker for coming up with that idea, that too, with the biggest Star hero. Even during this lockdown, farmers worked their way across and supplied us with what we needed. May be a superficial statement. But agriculture should be taken very seriously by everyone. Without food there is no survival. When we're struggling for survival there is no scope for entertainment. When the food supply stops, every other activity comes to a stand still.
Though cinematic, the film has come up with the right points. Rishi, whatever he did, he is a man with a mission. He's self motivated. He's done what needs to be done no matter what. Even when he's forced to leave it all and go back, he quickly recoups and joins hands with thatha and learns the nuances of agriculture and finally completes his mission.
Another point from this film that's worth considering is the importance in thinking about industries which are established for development. But that development has collateral damage. Here we have to think about sustainable development. Means development with minimum collateral damage. The oil fields of coastal Andhra Pradesh are commercially very lucrative.
But at what cost? Instead of exploiting villages and farming lands, why not work on finding alternative means of power? Do we still need oil to run our vehicles? Do we still have to depend on electricity in current form? Can't we invent alternative energy sources that don't do much damage to the environment? Think of Pasarlapudi blowout. Think of Vizag gas leakage. Of course, the mistake is on our side too. When the polymers in Vizag was established it was well outside of the reach of the city and its people. Now, it's in the centre of the city. The same is the case with industries in Jeedimetla and other areas in Hyderabad too.
Too much inflow of people. Why not establish corporate companies using minimum resources in a village like Rishi did? Why not decentralise development? Why not think about sustainable development?
Maharshi is a misunderstood classic
If we really understand all these things, we will understand Maharshi is not just a commercial potboiler. It's a classic. It offers us three big lessons.
The world is run by those who are ambitious and driven with a purpose
Human relations are as important as any development.
We all should think about sustainable development.
It is high time we all should follow Rishi who became Maharshi and find alternative ways of development and have our priorities in the right areas.
Updated rating: 4 out of 5
Written by: GitacharYa