HYDERABAD: Remaking a National award-winning film that is still being lapped up by the movie buffs on digital platforms is a tricky proposition. Hitherto, we have seen some excellent remakes of not-so-great films and some others that failed to live up to the merit of the original. Remakes don’t guarantee success and it’s always a challenge to replicate the success of the original more so if the ideas of the filmmakers don’t translate well onscreen. This is precisely the problem with Nithiin’s latest digital release Maestro, a remake of Hindi black comedy, Andhadhun (2018) featuring the ever-reliable Ayushmann Khurrana.
For all those who have watched Andhadhun, the remake will turn out to be unsatisfying, while for the rest it’s a one-time watch with a few anxious moments that rumble at regular intervals. Despite some decent performances, Maestro mutilates the soul of the original with minor tweaks and that has to be endured.
The film takes off at a cabbage farm in Goa with a unilaterally blind rabbit trying to run away from a ferocious farmer with a gun in his hand. In the next frame, we get introduced to Arun (Nithiin), a blind pianist, who earns a living with his music shows at a local resto-bar owned by Pedro (Balakrishna) and Sophie (Nabha Natesh). Then there’s Simran (Tamannaah Bhatia), an aspiring actress, who is married to a veteran hero, Mohan (Naresh VK), who’s still obsessed with his past glory.
Things get interesting when a murder mystery converges these three stories and how these characters find a way to save themselves forms the crux of Maestro. The very basic issue with Maestro is that it tries hard to live up to the brilliance of the original without doing justice to its clever intentions. In its attempt to recreate the original for the Telugu audience, Maestro hardly reproduces scenes from the former that boasts of a stellar star cast and performances. Even with the familiar cast, some scenes of the film give you the feeling of watching a half-hearted attempt to pay a tribute to a classic like Andhadhun.
It is not the story arcs of Andhadhun that were exceptional, but the extraordinary circumstances in which the characters find themselves trapped and the way its director Sriram Raghavan evokes thrill and humor from their helplessness, are. And they are thoroughly entertaining, often oscillating between black comedy and crime thriller. In Maestro, director Merlapaka Gandhi breaks the tense moments with a distractive background score that will make you disgruntled and discontent. Maybe he is interested in creating his own style of a dark comedy!
The film made me well up at a few moments, even if it didn’t offer me the thrill as much as the original. The scenes between Arun and Simran feel authentic and leave you in splits. Some of the dialogues and exchanges have a tinge of artificiality and a staged feeling about them. This is especially so in the scenes involving Simran and Mohan. In a film that has a solid story, none of its cast really gets to dazzle the audience.
The biggest disappointment is the climax of the film. Andhadhun has many surprises thrown at the viewers and the climax too was an open-ended piece leaving the audience to interpret the way they want. But here, Merlapaka Gandhi didn’t trust the intelligence of the audience!
Nithiin seems to be working his way up with a distinct set of roles in recent times, trying to shed his lover boy image, in which he has been typecast for nearly two decades now. He brings a sense of conviction to the film. I liked Tamannaah Bhatia’s performance as Simran, leave aside her dubbing difficulties and awkward pronunciation.
Nabha Natesh is relegated to a supporting character and she has precious little to do in the film. Naresh VK sports an unnatural-looking wig and he delivers a mediocre performance. Sreemukhi and Mangli bring versatility, while Harshavardhan, who plays Dr Swamy, makes his presence felt. Jisshu Sengupta and Ananya Nagalla leave an impact.
The background score by Swara Sagar Mahathi is not so effective, while J Yuvaraj’s cinematography is top-notch. Overall, Maestro entices the audience with a few surprises, but in the end, falls short of expectations.
Cast: Nithiin, Tamannaah Bhatia, Nabha Natesh, Naresh VK