In the 2000s when Bollywood was at its prime because of the masala, action, comedy, drama and romance films it released year after year; there were also movies which went unnoticed, which didn't garner as much attention as they deserved. They were thrillers. They were suspense movies which would keep you hooked till the end in quest of the last piece of the puzzle.
Maharathi is one such film. It is directed by Shivam Nair, someone you wouldn't hear about frequently, and boasts of an artistic star cast. Naseeruddin Shah plays Jaisingh Adenwalla, an out of work Bollywood film producer and now a debtor. His character is shown to resort to alcoholism to battle his current financial situation and his toxic marriage with his wife, a young and beautiful Mallika Adenwalla played by Neha Dhupia. They are your typical 'old-rich-guy marries young, beautiful girl' type of couple. Paresh Rawal plays Subhash Sharma, who becomes integral to the story right in the beginning. Boman Irani plays AD Merchant, legal advisor to Adenwalla.
Maharathi has a premise which makes you sit through the next 10 minutes to find out what happens next, and when you do find out, you find yourself to be hooked to the plot! The movie has a linear narrative and follows a one-dimensional plot, unlike some famous thriller and suspense movies like Drishyam and Badla. Such a plot buildup is easier for the audience to understand and keep track of things, which in turn makes the experience more enjoyable.
The movie opens with a sequence wherein a drunk Adenwalla is driving himself back home and to everyone's expectations, gets into an accident. This is when Subhash (Paresh Rawal), a local vagabond (a nobody) happens to be around and saves his life. He then takes Adenwalla to his house where Adenwalla later rewards him by letting him spend the night and offering him a job as his driver.
Adenwalla is shown to be an alcoholic who cannot control his emotions (and his marriage), but is always aware of what is happening. Mallika Adenwalla is a 'wife-waiting-to-be-widowed-for-insurance-money', and Jaisingh is aware of this. The movie is a series of events that is set in motion the night Subhash saves Adenwalla's life.
Normally in a Bollywood thriller you would not expect more than 2-3 twists in the tale, but Maharathi is a movie which keeps on surprising the audience with its storytelling and direction. The acting department definitely is supreme with everyone portraying their character to perfection and a special mention to Om Puri for adding cherry to the cake, but what stole my attention is the simplicity of the plot.
The plot is simple, and yet it manages to keep you engrossed. And this is where the movie is successful. It won't let you guess the suspense even when there are only 5 minutes remaining. Maharathi is a movie with a simple (some might even say questionable) storyline with some expected and some unexpected twists, but more importantly it has a good ending.
You have to wait till the end to know, who is the real Maharathi.