Maharshi, in short, is the journey of Rishi (Mahesh Babu) becoming a Maharshi, a god-like figure, for farmers. In long, it is about how an ambitious, success-driven middle-class youth becomes a billionaire CEO, only to be reminded of his roots via a forgotten friendship. Who is the friend and how it changes his path is what the movie is all about? How Is Mahesh Babu’s Performance? Superstar Mahesh Babu is seen in three shades in the movie as has been said.
They can be differentiated courtesy of the costume and pitch of the voice and amount of English. In short, they are just surficial add-on with no depth. Leaving aside that criticism, Mahesh Babu is fine and sincere as usual. The problem is the sameness across back to back films and the resultant monotony associated with it. As said above, the solution for that turned out to be cosmetic changes which don’t make an impact. The writing is to be majorly blamed for that, along with the character sketch. There are short punches like “Elli chaduvuko po” when Mahesh Babu meets the character of Kamal Kamaraju for the first time, which work. But overall, it looks like a lousy mishmash of lively energetic roles of the star from Businessman and Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu. Coming to the usual deal, the intensity is present throughout. There are a few scenes more so towards the end that do stand out within the narrative.
But they don’t have a similar ring to them when seen career-wise. They are good, no doubt, but nothing special either. Considering the promotion as the landmark 25th film, something special was expected from the star, and it is with that view the performance is disappointing.
Director Vamsi Paidipally -Maharshi Movie Director Vamshi Paidipally has been in the industry for over a decade, and yet he hasn’t broken through the top tier or is seen one among them having a craze on his own. The reason for that is playing safe and delivering routine commercial entertainers with no real spice. Only Oopiri feels like the odd one out which unsurprisingly is a remake. It brings us to Maharshi starring Superstar Mahesh Babu in the lead. Vamshi Paidipally seems to be still in Oopiri hangover and wants to deliver something more meaningful than the routine commercial potboilers he makes.
Why not, after all, Oopiri was the film that got him laurels. This line of thinking with no originality in content is the first and foremost failure of Maharshi. Right from the basic plot to the various blocks, they all feel derivative. It feels as if several hit films are rolled into one. They all generate a dejavu feeling despite being mounted lavishly. However, even that is not as much of a problem as the intention to deliver a message. The lead character delivers messages in various modes scene after scene that it gets boring very soon.
One can also see very clearly that there is an attempt to shoehorn various social issues and problems into the narrative. Vamshi Paidipally takes a Koratala Siva detour here and fills the screenplay with one problem after other. Only he doesn’t have the engaging screenplay and writing of the latter. Watching Maharshi makes one appreciate the movies in Mahesh Babu and Koratala Siva combo.
They could very well have ended like this. Still, the first half is passable with all its problems. The real turkey is the second half where the director loses track totally. There is no sense of engagement. The scenes come and go; the characters go with no impact. Keeping the star is sidetrack makes it worse. Only when the focus shifts on the hero to succeed that narrative gets some bite again. They are parts of the last half an hour preceded by a fight that is good.
Overall, Maharshi is a tedious watch despite noble intentions. The tonal inconsistency and weak writing and roles make the vast majority of the movie unbearable to sit through. Maharshi eventually ends up as a wasted opportunity for a special landmark outing.
Pooja Hegde is totally wasted. It can be said as a fact that even if all her scenes are chopped off, it won’t affect the narrative one bit. Who knows, maybe Maharshi could appear pacier with her entire track taken out. She doesn’t make an impression in the songs as well which is even worse from her perspective. Generally, the heroines get such character, so, it doesn’t come as a surprise, but here, most of the supporting cast (Mukesh Rishi, Kamal Kamaraj, Vidyuleka Raman, Brahmaji, Rajiv Kanakala, etc.), antagonist and comedians also get the same treatment. Jagapathi Babu and Vennela Kishore are entirely wasted. Luckily, there is Allari Naresh to make up for that. He gets a crucial role and delivers even though there is nothing new or fresh for him acting wise. His comedy timing is not utilized at all, and his action is mellowed down with a mix of awkwardness. Rao Ramesh is decent in a limited scope provided to him. Prakash Raj looms large over the proceedings even with a small role. Posani Krishna Murali and Prudhvi are alright.
Maharshi is a forgettable outing coming from Devi Sri Prasad. It is among his weakest works concerning the music and the background score. The cinematography by KU Mohanan is excellent. It gives the movie a unique slick look. The editing is terrible. The film never settles into a continuous rhythm narratively. The action choreography by Ram-Lakshman is excellent, especially the fight in the second half.
Removing the heroine track entirely would be perfect, but as there are commercial demands, a better-written role into the narrative would have been an ideal alternative take.