Maha Samudram Movie Review: A deep premise is undone by shallow narration

Updated on Oct 15, 2021 12:12 AM IST  |  77.3K
   
Maha Samudram Movie Review
Maha Samudram Movie Review: A deep premise is undone by shallow narration
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Title: Maha Samudram

Cast: Sharwanand, Siddharth, Aditi Rao Hydari and others

Director: Ajay Bhupathi

Rating: 2.5/5

Director Ajay Bhupathi's maiden movie 'RX 100' (2018) was no ordinary story. It was gutsy and inventive in how it managed to tell the story of a femme fatale without cheapening the proceedings. His second movie, 'Maha Samudram', comes with a roster of definitive characters and a few distinctive characterizations as well. The storyline, too, is respectable. But what the film lacks in totality is the ability to execute the situations to a chilling effect. As a result, even when the characters we have managed to invest in go through existential crises/years of trauma, we don't feel that they are threatened.

In Vizag, Arjun (Sharwanand) and Vijay (Siddharth) are witness to the rise of Dhanunjay (Ramachandra Raju), a don who holds the system under his thumb. Vijay, who is all set to become a Sub-Inspector of Police, is greedy and has plans to scam the system in cahoots with the bad guys. While his friend's mindset stumps Arjun, he doesn't quite end the friendship. 

In a parallel track, Vijay is in a relationship with Maha (Aditi Rao Hydari), a naive woman whose father is abusive. While Maha's feelings for Vijay are unconditional, the latter seems to be only in a transactional relationship with her. There comes a day when Vijay has to run for his life and Arjun is the last man standing for him and Maha. What consequences does this have for the duo? What role does Gooni Babji (Rao Ramesh), the estranged brother of Dhanunjay, have in their destiny? What is Chunchu (Jagapathi Babu), the all-weather friend of Arjun, going to do now? That's the rest of the story.

In a long time, Telugu films haven't had complex characters that don't give to straightforwardness. 'Maha Samudram' deserves a pat on the back. That said, the film doesn't quite understand what to do with those rare characters and rarer situations (there is a brother seething in impotent rage, there is a damsel in distress who doesn't make a song and dance about her fate, there is a backstabber's son, there is an insincere 'lover', there is a game-changing accident, there is a worthy four-year span). 

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While the drama could have been moving, we see all depth stuffed only in songs in the form of lyrics. The dialogues struggle to make us invest in the conflict plot points. The twists are legit on paper, but we are not drawn into the roller-coaster ride someshow. Is it because the situations don't realize their potential of looking grave? Is it because the facades are not as frightening as they were supposed to be? Is it also because the powerfulness of Arjun lacks believability? Is it because the meteoric rise of Arjun in the dark world is sudden? Is it because the dark world portions are mostly narrated in the form of montages? 

This is not to say that 'Maha Samudram' is comprehensively inadequate. A character says that Vizag is waiting to tell a protagonist the dark secrets in its womb. This is such an evocative line. Even when the action blocks seem bland, the context in which they happen (especially in the pre-interval segment) make them seem special. The segment involving Maha has a life of its own despite the fact that the chemistry is so-so. The characters played by Rao Ramesh and Jagapathi Babu are not neat but they have their meaty moments. 

Chaitan Bharadwaj's background music captures the wickedness of the proceedings in the second half. Raj Thota's cinematography is able. The performances are befitting. 

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