Story: Maryan goes to Sudan to work in an oil company to pay back a loan taken by Thomas (Salim Kumar), the father of his lover Panimalar (Parvathi). While on his way back to India, he and his co-workers are taken hostage by kidnappers. Not all survive the ordeal.
Review: Bharat Bala, he of the patriotic video songs and English film 'Hari Om' fame, makes his debut in Tamil with 'Maryan' (which means one who never dies). Drawing inspiration from the real life story of three oil workers who escaped from their kidnappers in Sudan, he weaves a beautiful but intense story, celebrating the power of love which makes heroes out of ordinary men. The screenplay, by Sriram Rajan and Bala, concentrates on the bond between Maryan and Panimalar, giving the movie its strong emotional core. And thankfully, rather than glorifying Maryan as a larger than life hero, Bala shows him as an ordinary fisherman who rises above his circumstances and fights for freedom, thanks to the belief his lover reposes in him.
All those in Bollywood raving about Dhanush's performance as a lovelorn youth in 'Raanjhana' should watch this movie to find out what he is capable of delivering if given a strong script and a well-written character. One just has to see his electrifying performance in the scene where he is asked to call up his employers to ask for money but calls up Panimalar instead or in the scene where, denied food and water, he and co-worker Saami (Jagan) hallucinate about eating mouth-watering seafood at home and smoking a cheroot after the satisfying meal. If 'Aadukalam' was a landmark in the actor's career, 'Maryan' is sure to mark another milestone.
Parvati Menon is the other pillar of the film, and comes up with a scintillating performance. When Maryan is kidnapped, first comes shock, which slowly changes to belief that he will make it out alive from captivity, and it is such a pleasure to watch her portray these various emotions. Her expressive eyes show how deeply she is in love with Maryan, and how much she pines for him in his absence. The camera of Belgian cinematographer Marc Koninckx seems to be in love with her, for she has never looked more beautiful on screen.
Koninckx impresses with some breathtaking visuals and quaint angles, as does dialogue writer R N Joe D'Cruz with the fisherman lingo and some crisp lines. Editor Vivek Harshan lets the love story unfold in its own languid pace, but some scenes could have been clipped to make the movie crisper.
Collaborations of Bala and A R Rahman have always thrown up some terrific music and 'Maryan' too doesn't disappoint. 'Innum konjam neram' (Vijay Prakash and Swetha Menon) is a soft and soothing melody, while the anthemic and uplifting 'Nenje ezhu' (Rahman) and the lament 'Kadal raasa naan' (Yuvan Shankar Raja) are the other songs that stand out.
There are a few problems though that prevent the movie from taking a shot at greatness -- the token gesture to include the Sri Lankan attacks on Indian fishermen seems like an afterthought, the stereotyping of the African kidnappers and the many irritating continuity problems. Also, for a man who gives logical replies to his friends about why he does not want to fall in love, Maryan's change of heart is a bit too quick and unconvincing.
Note: A soulful love story, but candy floss is not on the menu.