MAHARATHI is an out and out Paresh Rawal fare. And no one is complaining. This here is an actor par excellence and he once again proves his mettle. A conman who gets a lucky break, he goes on to become a crorepati. Of course, there is lots of quick wit, and this is exactly what makes the movie tick.
Cast: Naseruddin Shah, Om Puri, Paresh Rawal, Boman Irani and Neha Dhupia
Naseeruddin essays the role of a has-been film director who seems to have fallen on bad days after marrying wannabe actress, Neha Dhupia. A complete mess of a man, he spends most of his time drinking and raging: a riveting picture of a man on the brink, waiting to explode. Petty thief, Paresh Rawal saves him from a near-death experience one night and becomes his most trusted aide, much to the discomfiture of spitfire Neha, who doesn’t spare a chance to insult him. Naseer does end his sordid life, but not before creating a web of greed, deceit and treachery that binds together the assorted people in his life. The bait is the Rs 24 crore insurance money which is enough allurement to turn everybody — wife Neha, savior Paresh, lawyer Boman — into a bunch of predators.
So who’s the meanest of them all? Play the guessing game, as loyalties change, mishaps occur and providence plays hookie with the grand masters. There are enough turns and twists in the plot to keep you in nail-biting mode, although the film does take time to build up towards a thrilling second half. Almost all the actors play out their roles to perfection. If Naseer renders a copy book act of a success-gone-sour story, then Paresh is matchless as the man with a million moods, most of them being fake. Boman Irani, minus his exaggerations, is eminently watchable, but it is Neha Dhupia who seems to be growing after her association with alternate cinema.
If you want a taste of a desi version of Sleuth, Peter Shaffer’s spellbinding play-turned-film, go watch Maharathi. The story may be different, the edge of danger is almost similar.
Overall, this movie is a treat to watch when it comes to performances. Also, the director does a great job with the detailing and restraint he shows over the narration. Shivam Nair proves his mettle.