HomeMovie ReviewsMarakkar Review: A film that doesn't sail to beat its expectations.

Marakkar Review: A film that doesn’t sail to beat its expectations.

marakkar review 1



•Language: MALAYALAM. 

•Duration: 03 Hours 01 Minutes.

•Genre: Period War




1: Decent direction. 

2: Performance of actors. 

3: Graphics 

4: Cinematography 

5: Background Score. 

6: Editing. 


1: Predictable Story

2: Screenplay could have been written better. 

3: Hurried Ending. 

4: Average Songs. 

5: Lip-syncing issues. 

• ONE WORD: Marakkar is technically ok but lacks an impact to impress. 


Marakkar: Lion of the Arabian Sea tells the story of the legendary warrior Kunjali Marakkar IV who also known as Muhammad Ali. The plot begins in the 16th century Kozhikode (Malabar part of Kerala) the story revolves around Kunjali Marakkar IV, the admiral of the fleet of Samaoothiri who makes an epic war fight against the invading Portuguese army to set their land free. His epic battle and will he be victorious is the story unfolding. 


Marakkar: Lion of the Arabian Sea is directed by the veteran filmmaker Priyadarshan. He also handles writing the story and screenplay along with Anil Sasi. The movie is produced by Antony Perumbavoor and co-produced by DR. Roy C.J and Santosh T. Kuruvila under the production companies such as Aashiravad Cinemas and Confident Groups. The movie with a running time of 181 minutes is distributed by Max Movies and V. Creations. 

Marakkar: Lion of the Arabian Sea is truly engaging and entertaining, a movie that is meant to watch on the big screen. The direction from Priyadarshan was outstanding, he carried and held the whole film according to his method of style and resulted out as one of the best technically brilliant films. For me the viewing experience from the theatre was outstanding, the early morning show with the fans was exciting and the technical brilliance which I saw in the film made me surprised. But there are some drawbacks which I felt, so personally, the movie is kind of a mixed experience. The making of Priyadarshan was top-rated, the technical aspects were wonderful, the performance from actors was authentic but the writing was mediocre especially the screenplay. 

The story was written nicely but it was all floated with the dilemmas of predictability and the screenplay was not effectively written which unfortunately resulted in not getting a real impact. A punch or a kickass moment was missing in the whole film, when a scene is getting completed it just ends like a normal scene, nothing special or a uniqueness was not felt. I was expecting some goosebumps moments but haven’t felt any of it during both the first half and second half. The predictable way of storytelling was causing some troubles in the viewing experience, what is going to happen next is understandable so if someone is expecting any kind of surprise or unexpected happenings the ultimate result will be disappointing. So due to this predictable way of story writing, the various incidents that lead the plot felt ordinary and also it was affecting the screenplay. The screenplay was like a half-baked cake, in some areas it went well and other areas were totally bad. A strong foundation was not there in the screenplay, till the first half the numerous events were having the right balance, but from the second half, a favourable connection was missing. 

The first half was engaging with many occurrences and the various occasions that connect the story to the main plot were carefully and neatly written. The desired time was taken to establish the story, the life of the central character Kunjali Marakkar was shown step by step which will help the audience to relate and connect with the character. His childhood, his family and his way of life, his anger, his aim and his interest was productively told in the right manner. So the first half and the ending of the first half was having the proper balance with thrilling and interesting factors. Also the beginning of new allies at the end of the first half was giving the expectation for something big. But the problem associated with the screenplay starts from the second half, everything was hurried which sadly doesn’t make an impact. The situations in the second half which lead the plot felt dramatic, those incidents are something we have seen and read before. The second half is compressed with romance, betrayal and misunderstanding and these are the three components that carry the film forward. So when the element of betrayal comes, who will betray whom and what will be the final result is easily predictable. As we all know the central character will be the person who will be getting betrayed and what will happen to him at the end due to this betrayal is something which we use to watch in all historical war movies and Marakkar also follows this same pattern. Therefore this regular pattern was making the climax dull and the ending was lacking the punch to create an impact. The climax was not giving any kind of an influenced feel, the ending chapter in the life of Kunjali Marakkar was not creating the moment of excitement or was not giving a heroic feel, the way his life ends was not formulating the manner of a brave warrior. 

The character development was also mediocre, many characters appear with a crucial role and how they make and build their relationship with Kunjali Marakkar was sloppily written especially the character of Arjun Sarja and Sunil Shetty. Both of them have significant importance in the film and how their character connects with Kunjali Marakkar was not establishing an impact. They just show or through the words they express their trust and love towards Kunjali Marakkar, therefore while I was watching I felt like the writers were forcing us to believe as they think. The scene of Mohanlal and Arjun Sarja coming to a misunderstanding was badly made and carelessly written, it was a scene that was meant to create a big impact but due to the lack of ideas, it was not creating a special moment. The combination scenes of Mohanlal and Sunil Shetty were also affected by these problems, lack of depth between the characters was making their combination look weak. The next drawback with the script is sometimes the events in the film move to an overdramatic style. I felt some scenes were purposely dragged with cliched dialogues, a language style of a stage drama was felt in a few scenes. The dialogues were good but not great, like I said some dialogue was having the taste of a melodrama style. The emotional scenes were not working great because of the average dialogues, the feel of sentiment was not passing for the viewers. When it comes to the dialogues of Kunjali Marakkar the conversation led by the character was not having a mass feel, sharp or powerful dialogues were not coming out from the mouth, the scenes were ending with normal words that sadly doesn’t impress much. 

To make this movie technically brilliant the strategies and methods used by Priyadarshan and Sabu Cyril need special mention. The execution by Priyadarshan was good but it’s not his best work. Still with the help of good graphics and camera work he makes the movie engaging. The classic touch of Priyadarshan was missing but the production designer Sabu Cyril had done an incredible job to make this movie look richer. Till the end, the making was not getting any off-balance, he carried the movie steadily, and with the technical brilliance, he maintained momentum to land the movie safely to the climax. Instead of Priyadarshan, if an experienced writer was writing the screenplay his direction could have been extra powerful, he was moderate in writing the screenplay. A negative I felt in the direction of Priyadarshan is the hurried way of ending. The events and situation which makes the way for the climax were rushed fastly, the revenge shown was happening very fast without giving a proper impact or effect. Here Priyadarshan could have focused more, there were plenty of chances to make the character of Marakkar memorable but he hasn’t used it effectively. 


 Marakkar: The Lion of the Arabian comes with a huge star casting from various industries. Mohanlal, Sunil Shetty, Arjun Sarja, Ashok Selvan, Prabhu, Keerthy Suresh, Manju Warrier, Jay J. Jakkrit, Pranav Mohanlal, Nedumudi Venu, Kalyani Priyadarshan, Mukesh, Siddique, Fazil, Suhasini Maniratnam, Mamukkoya, Mukesh, Innocent, Baburaj, Manikuttan, Shiyas Karim and many more. The performance of Mohanlal as Kunjali Marakkar was impressive, he delivered his best. At this age, the dedication and commitment he showed to the character needs to be specially mentioned. I liked the way he undertook the character, the approach he made to establish the character was having real energy. The stunts he performed were great and the emotional scenes he acted out reminded me of his real acting skills. The natural feel was seen in his face at the time of his emotional scene, his crying and how he speaks at the moment was satisfactory. The attitude of a daring and protective leader was also seen in his performance and his dialogue delivery with the Malabar touch was on the right track. The timing in delivering the dialogues was perfect, no matter what the type of scene he acted out according to its importance. Some scenes largely focus on his eyes and the expression which we can see at that particular time was stunning. Arjun Sarja as Anandan shines with his acting skills, his screen presence was good to watch. His matured level of undertaking the character had impressed me, the way he speaks was fascinating. The expression he uses at the time of action sequences was amusing to watch and the combination scene with Mohanlal was blended with the action and it was thrilling to watch. Sunil Shetty’s as Chandroth Panicker was largely seen in the second half, his actions and stunts were nice but were not having much to perform, still, he delivered his best. The problem I felt with the character of Arjun Sarja and Sunil Shetty was the lip syncing issues, in some areas it was bad to watch. Prabhu as Thangudu did a notable job, his few situational senses of humour and the tough mannerism favoured the scenarios. His combination with Mohanlal was matching and the chemistry they had with the element of friendship was upstanding rightly. Ashok Selvan as Achuthan did an excellent performance, the villain shade character was acted out genuinely by him. His cunning looks and the betrayal mind was having the quality set of crooked villain, he also maintained to keep the lip syncing decently. Keerthy Suresh as Archa, did an excellent performance. Her outlook and costumes were looking gorgeous, the expressions were imposing to create a good attraction. She plays the role of singer so the various expressions she took while singing was noble to watch. The romance in her character with Jay J. Jakkrit was lovely, their combination had worked out well to make the movie travel forward. Manju Warrier as Subaida did an acceptable performance, her character is having some crucial tunes and changeover and she did it nicely according to the situations. Nedumudi Venu as Samoothiri was having all qualities of a respected king, the acting was fitting for a famous king and the performance of Nedumudi Venu till the end was favouring the scenarios. Pranav Mohanlal comes with an extended cameo and he did an outstanding job. His screen presence from the beginning till the mid-first half was perfect, the looks were charming. His body was fitting for the younger version of Kunjali Marakkar, the fights and the stunts were smashing to make some impression. Kalyani Priyadarshan makes a cameo appearance for a song and she looks stunningly gorgeous with a cute smile. Mukesh as Dharmoth Panicker, Innocent as Namath Kurup, Mamukkoya as Aboobakkar Haji, and Baburaj as Puthumana Panicker did complete justice to their respective supportive roles with genuine acting. The actors who did the roles of Portuguese army officers also did a noteworthy performance with the negative touch matching for the perfect villains. 


The musical work for the film is composed by Ronnie Raphael and the background score is tuned by Rahul Raj, Ankit Suri and Lyell Evans Roeder. Ankit Suri and Lyell Evans Roeder from Alternative Fidelity the British-American music production house compose the background score for the battle sequences. The film comprises five songs and except one all others tracks were found average. The composition of songs could have done better, most of the songs were felt like heard before also a feel was missing. The song “Illaveyil” sung by Shreya Ghoshal and M.G Sreekumar was not that great for me, the classical notes at the beginning by Shreya Ghoshal and the sounds of the veena instrument was good to hear. The lyrics by Prabha Varma were fine but the voice of M.G Sreekumar and the tunes of the song haven’t settled with the scenarios. The song “Kunju Kunjali” sung by K.implieds implies the love of a mother and son and the song was nice to hear but some sort of similarities with many lullaby songs was felt. The voice of K.S Chitra was lovely and the lyrics by B. K. Harinarayanan was meaningful to express the love of motherhood. The other song  “Neeye En Thaaye” sung by K. S. Harisankar and Reshma Raghavendra was also like an ordinary one, similarities to devotional Hindu caste songs was felt. The musical instruments stood higher with the noticing lyrics of B. K. Harinarayanan. The romantic song “Kannil Ente” sung by Vineeth Sreenivasan, Shwetha Mohan and Zia Ul Haq was the only song I liked about the soundtracks of Ronnie Raphael. The voice of Vineeth Sreenivasan and Swetha Menon was superb to set the romantic connection between Pranav Mohanlal and Kalyani Priyadarshan. The tune was matching to set the amazing visuals and the classical higher pitches of Zia Ul Haq was pleasant to hear also the lyrics of B. K. Harinarayanan and Shafi Kollam had given the right feel to define the romance.   

The background score of the battle sequences was epic, the scene was perfectly blended with the right tunes to set the premise of war scenes. The war scenes were giving the rightful excitement and thrill because of the favourable background score, leaving the audience to feel the enthusiasm to cheer and clap for the stunning scenes. The scenes of war were dominating to get thrilled and the background score was uplifting the scenes higher to make the visuals spectacular. The Marakkar theme music tuned by Rahul Raj feels differently unique, whenever it is heard those tunes create a magical feel to listen back again. The background score at the emotional scenes by Rahul Raj had created a sentimental feel. The background score at the climax was really impressive, the ending with the help of those tunes had made some memorable moments. 


The entire team of technical aspects had made a fabulous effort to make this movie technically brilliant, it’s rich in aspects. The top-class cinematography, errorless editing, impressive graphics and visual effects, matching artwork, exciting actions and incredible production design had made the film technically phenomenal. The cinematography by S. Thirunavukarasu who is known as Tirru had done a spectacular job. The movie was rolled with many beautiful frames, marvellous shots and plenty of eye-catching moments so a masterly skilled brilliance was seen in the whole cinematography work. The amazing camera movements in the action sequences and war scenes were flawlessly taken so a depth of a real war was given by the cinematography. Moreover, the visuals of the war scene were properly giving a true impact so that those visuals of war were giving an amazingly thrilling experience. The cinematic experience which the movie offers is like a visual treat, the big screen is filled with many epic unforgettable visuals of a real sea war.  Also, there were certain frames in the movie which exhibited the various emotions of the lead characters, it was focused to showcase the nicest expressions of actors, and loved the way the camera points those particular emotions. To get the matching visuals according to the graphical work and CGI work the role of the cinematographer is crucial, so here the cinematographer Tirru had done a glorious job. All the visuals of the sea were graphically made which was shot on a large big set so those visuals of the sea and war fights had an appropriate matching connection to unite with graphic work, therefore, the visuals haven’t given an artificial feel in the big screen. The editing by M. S. Aiyyappan Nair felt faultless, his grading methods are the most I like in the whole editing work. The grading on the war scenes was giving the right mood and a stellar cinematic experience. The mix of a dark tone with the slight bluish touch was superbly brought at the right scenes. The cuts were also perfect and the transition of the scene was on the right way which hasn’t given any sort of mismatching feel. The team who are behind the task of bringing out the graphics work had done a tremendous effort to make the movie to an unimaginable level. Normally the Malayalam movie industry is not that much grown to show highly advanced graphics work and here Marakkar makes the first step by making some grandest and finest graphical work. The movie largely depends on the graphics work and the sea is an element that is primarily focused so in this movie the entire sea which was shown was graphics and it’s hard to believe that it was not an original sea. The scenes which exhibit the graphics of the sea were magically composed, the large ships shown in the film for the war scene was like actually running in seawater. Also, the graphics shown at the war scene were neatly designed, an artificial feel was not found in the viewing experience. The sound design by M.R Rajakrishnan was also great, the sounds of the arrow, the attacks using the sword, the neigh of horses and the huge sounds of artillery and cavalry were heard like never before, the Dolby sound experience was enormous. As a periodical war film, the responsibility of the art department to make a set matching for the targeted century is tough and complicated and those challenges of bringing out a corresponding set were positively made by the art department. The set which we can see in the film felt like the 16th century, the sets were made carefully. The palace of the king was made beautifully, the wardrobe and furniture arrangement in the palace was also systematically made. The warships play a crucial role in the film and the ships were made big like the original and it was tremendously constructed giving a natural feel. The weapons used in the film for the war scenes also look actual and the sets of the battlefield had also peered at the situations to look vibrant. The costume designer Sujith Sudhakaran and Indrakshi Pattanaik had also worked hard to bring out the appropriate costumes to match the dresses of the 16th century. The costumes given to every actor was according to their particular roles, none of them looked unnatural. The costume held by Mohanlal during the war scene sets all the attitudes of a brave and daring warrior. The dresses and war costumes of Arjun, Sunil Shetty and Jay J. Jakkrit were also catchy. The costumes for Keerthy Suresh were gorgeous and the costumes held by the people associated with the palace had wealthy looks. Also, the Portuguese army officials were looking precise in their army dresses. The production design by Sabu Cyril was excellent, his earlier works had proved his excellence. His clear cut intention and ideas to make the movie look different were evident in the film. His contribution in finding the right locations, arrangement of props and supervision in graphical work, camera and costumes was evident which made the film look outstanding in technical aspects. 


So overall Marakkar: Lion of the Arabian Sea had given me a mixed kind of experience, liked it but not fully. The technical brilliance and the performance of the actors makes the film watchable, the decent graphics and cinematography took the movie to a safer level. What I disliked is the way of storytelling, also the predictable plot and the and screenplay is a major issue associated with the film still, the making doesn’t impressed much still Priyadarshan hold the film from not getting falling apart. Therefore to conclude, the visual treat the movie offers on the big screen by its technical brilliance is something that can be worth watching but for the better sake kindly watch with fewer expectations.


• RATING: 2.5/5


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