Maara, starring actors R Madhavan and Shraddha Srinath, will premiere on Amazon Prime Video on January 8 and has been linked to the hit Malayalam film Charlie (2015), which starred Dulquer Salmaan and Parvathy.
However, speaking to Silverscreen India, Maara director Dhilip Kumar said that the film was not about remaking Charlie, but about capturing its feel-good mood.
According to its scriptwriter Unni R, Charlie was the story of a man who drifts from one person to another, spreading love and kindness. According to Dhilip, Maara was not about recreating Charlie frame-by-frame, but about delivering the essence of Charlie with a different recipe.
In 2017, producers Pramod Films bought the rights of Charlie to make a Tamil remake. According to Dhilip, what they wanted was to retain the feel-good emotion that the film evoked in them, the emotion they really enjoyed.
Dhilip said, “That was the brief given to us.”
Maara, as its trailer shows, follows Paaru (Shraddha) as she stumbles across a diary full of sketches and paintings in her new apartment, and embarks on a journey to find the artist – Maara (Madhavan). Dhilip said Madhavan had been signed first, and then finally Shraddha was zeroed in to play Paaru.
Shraddha was also Madhavan’s co-star in the 2017 Tamil action thriller film Vikram Vedha.
Maara is Dhilip’s first film as a director. He was originally the film’s writer and said that the transition from director to writer was smooth.
He said, “When you are writing for a film, you are already speaking about making it at some level. You always try to put a face to the character you have written. So, in some form or the other, you have already come into the making.”
In 2017, Dhilip had directed the short film Kalki written by film critic Baradwaj Rangan.
“When Kalki happened, I was more interested in reading short stories. Usually only novels or novellas can be made into feature films, but at that time short stories interested me,” said Dhilip.
Dhilip said he was always interested in feature writing, and so when Maara came along, he was prepared to direct a full-length feature film.
Dhilip said his advertising background helped in the making of Maara.
“In advertising, every single shot and the length of the film is figured out before the shoot. It was hard to adapt that for a feature-length film, but it helped me be really prepared,” he said.
“I tried to keep it right – in all the shots, characters, and stages of Maara. When you have written the characters, the rhythm is what is going to give you the cue for how they need to speak the dialogues. That rhythm needs to be kept in mind and it defines the emotional quotient – what scenes to underplay, when to go overboard,” he said.
Following the example of films like Soorarai Pottru and Mookuthi Amman, which released on streaming platforms, Maara will also be a straight-to-streaming platform release.
By the time Maara completed shooting and the film was in post-production, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the film industry had lessened. Dhilip said, “By then a new normal had been established. We realised that the sweet spot is now, when the paradigm shift has happened in terms of releasing films.”
According to Dhilip, films releasing on OTT platforms are not less important. “In fact, it feels good to be part of the initial bunch of films that will be the forerunners in terms of opting to release on such platforms.”
Maara was initially scheduled to release on December 17, but was postponed to January 8 to ensure that the team had time to promote the film, said Dhilip. Describing Maara as a “holiday film”, Dhilip said that the film would bring in the new year on a “happy note and with positive hope”.
Maara is is produced by Prateek Chakravorty and Shruti Nallappa, with Ghibran composing the music and Bhuvan Srinivasan handling the editing.