Tamil Reviews

Marakkar- Arabikadalinte Simham Review: Yet Another Star-Studded Film Let Down by Weak Writing

The PriyadarshanMohanlal combo occupies an indelible part in Malayalam cinema’s history. With Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham, the duo has strayed from their go-to genre, comedy, into what has emerged as an attempt to make an ‘epic’ film out of a spiritless, unoriginal narrative.


Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham, is a fictionalised account of the life of Mohammed Ali/Kunjali Marakkar, a naval commander who fought the Portuguese troops for the Samoothiri (Zamorin), the Hindu monarch of erstwhile Calicut, in the 16th century. Kunjali Marakkar was the fourth in his family to serve the Samoothiri in war. His real life story is spotty and there are varied accounts that co-exist.

In an interview last year, Priyadarshan said that for Marakkar, he gave his own spin to the basic story of Kunjali Marakkar that he learnt in school. Even with so much leeway to weave fiction into the plot and fill the gaps in Kunjali’s life, the story is still as predictable as it gets.

Early on in the film, we are introduced to a young Kunjali (played by Pranav Mohanlal), a momma’s boy with lightning-quick reflexes and not a care in the world. The way the film makes Kunjali’s close relationship with his mother (Suhasini Maniratnam) the cornerstone of his early life makes it ridiculously easy to predict the turn the story takes next.

In fact, the women in Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham serve only as triggers for the men to wreak vengeance. This is true of Aisha (Kalyani Priyadarshan), young Kunjali’s bride who appears only for a brief couple of minutes in the film and Aarcha (Keerthi Suresh), who, despite getting more screen time, is ultimately reduced to a plot point.

An all-star cast is unable to salvage the weak, clunky writing. Familiar faces like Suniel Shetty, Ashok Selvan, Arjun Sarja, Baburaj and Ganesh Kumar drift in and out of scenes, dropping nondescript dialogues and serving no useful purpose.

Manju Warrier (who plays Subaida, a widow) may perhaps be the most underused actor in the film, always hanging around in the background, fenced in by a disappointing, formulaic character arc. Others with slightly larger scope to perform, such as Prabhu (who plays Kunjali’s aide) and Suhasini, deliver laughable performances. Mohanlal, as the older Kunjali, meanders through the film, delivering a theatrical, underwhelming performance. Till the very end of the film, it’s difficult to relate to or empathise with Kunjali, partly due to the weak character development.

On the other hand, Siddique (as Kunjali’s uncle), the late Nedumudi Venu (who plays the Samoothiri) and Hareesh Peradi (who essays the Samoothiri’s military advisor) all deliver strong performances.

The runtime, over three hours, is agonisingly long, making one wonder if the film really needed all those songs.


Thanks to the cinematographer Tirru and the production designer Sabu Cyril, the visuals, of formidable, crashing waves, monstrous ships and blood-soaked battlefields, and the massive sets that look both impressive and lived in, are the only saving grace in the film.

For the visuals and production design, it is money well spent. As for everything else, it sadly adds up to nothing.


This Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.