“Marjaavaan” has all it takes to make a blockbuster—a bicep-flexing ‘hero’, his loyal-to-death friends, a petite ‘heroine’, a couple of items numbers, a formidable villain, unrealistic action sequences, and a heavily dramatized climax. This could have brought in flocks of audiences to the cinema if it were the 90s—but it’s not. In the year 2019, when both Indian cinema and the audience have matured enough to celebrate realistic stories and lifelike protagonists, a larger-than-life hero who can pull water tankers with his arms and punch through motorcycle helmets is not welcome—if he’s not Bajirao Singham, Rowdy Rathore, or Chulbul Pandey.
Directed by Milap Zaveri, Marjaavaan is literally a 90s movie, probably written for Sunil Shetty or Sunny Deol, but made in 2019 with Sidharth Malhotra performing the heroic duties as “Raghu”—a gangster with a good heart. Now how many gangsters with good heart stories have we seen? Countless, right? “Marjaavaan” is just one of them, with nothing new in the storyline. Even most songs in the movies are remixes of 90s’ hits. A film can’t be as unoriginal as this.
Now Malhotra, who has played plenty of boy-next-door characters in the past and is still struggling to make a mark in Bollywood, tries to pull off the “angry young man” character in this one but fails miserably. A 90s hero has to have a damsel in distress and this we get in the form of Tara Sutaria who plays “Zoya”, a ‘mute’ music teacher who falls for Raghu at first sight and sets out to reform him. The clichéd repertoire is then complete with Raghu’s arch-nemesis “Vishnu” (Riteish Deshmukh), the dwarf son of Raghu’s boss who is jealous of his father’s fondness for Raghu. And the clichés continue.
As the movie progresses with a lazy screenplay and even worse acting, the audience is nothing but dumfounded at the lack of creativity in this big banner (T-Series) film.
Story-wise, Marjaavaan has an uncanny resemblance to Sanjay Dutt starrer “Aandolan” (1994). In fact, a few scenes and side stories could be directly out of the classic.
What hurts more than the repetitive storyline is the acting of the lead stars. Malhotra, who sure grew up watching actions stars like Ajay Devgan and Akshay Kumar can’t seem to emulate them. Only flexing the biceps and giving cold stares doesn’t make the audience believe you can take out a dozen goons at once. You need to have that ferocity built into your character.
As for his co-star Sutaria, she’s the weakest link in the movie. Zoya is mute but can hear and expresses herself with sign language. It is evidently clear that Sutaria came ill-prepared to the sets to play Zoya. We can only watch in despair while she struggles to mime through sign languages with zero conviction.
The most disappointing performance in the movie comes from Deshmukh though. Mostly seen in slapstick rom-coms and adult comedies, Deshmukh loses all credibility as a serious actor he won from his performance in “Ek Villain” (2015). Playing a dwarf gang-leader, Deshmukh had the opportunity to carve out a memorable character as Vishnu, but he seems confused on whether to look sinister or funny for the part. Deshmukh’s Vishnu lacks the villainous disposition and ends up looking like just another supporting character.
Overall, despite a big banner name and experienced hands, Marjaavaan is a mistake for everyone involved. It in fact seems like a spoof of 90s Bollywood, but, unfortunately, the filmmakers were making a serious film. There’s no entertainment factor, zero comic relief, and overburdened dialogues without any memorable punchlines—a flop show all the way.
Who should watch it?
This is one film we don’t recommend to anyone. We suggest you skip it even when it is eventually released on Youtube.