Maestro movie review: Sincere and ambitious, but is that enough?

Director Merlapaka Gandhi and actor Nithiin, whose home production supports the Maestro, deserve to be caught on the back trying to recreate the black comedian of black author Sriram Raghavan’s Andhadhun, Telugu. If you have ever seen the real thing, you may agree that it takes courage to try and match the idea.

One could argue that when the real digital experience is available, do we need a direct digital digital return (Disney + Hotstar)? But with business issues in the midst of the epidemic, the Maestro would be a theatrical release, taking the story to the new pockets of Telugu film viewers. That is a completely different problem.

As it stands, Maestro is trustworthy in its source content, doing so with only mildness. However, it fails. Do you remember the macabre jokes going on as the pianist, who is said to be blind, knew the events that took place in the former actor’s house after the assassination? Much depends on how the sequence was drawn, with Tabu playing a major role, assisted by Ayushmann Khurrana and Manav Vij. The Maestro sequence follows the same pattern but the result is far-reaching.

The Maestro was set up in Goa where pianist Arun (Nithiin) tried to create music with a strong focus, play-play to make it blind to avoid distractions. He falls in love with Sophie (Nabha Natesh), his father who runs the restaurant. Arun hopes his music can help bring back the good fortune of the restaurant. Here, you meet the previous actor Mohan (V K Naresh). An invitation to perform at a private concert where Mohan lives changes everything about Arun.

The image of the ‘maestro’ Ilaiyaraaja is prominently displayed on Arun’s piano. It is also worth noting that the ancient character of the actor was named Mohan, perhaps also referring to the 80s when Ilaiyaraaja’s music helped ‘Mike’ Mohan bring great films to Tamil. There is a waste of V K Naresh’s original Telugu songs as well. Tamanaah plays Mohan’s hot young wife Simran. Jisshu Sengupta is a police officer and Ananya Nagalla is Mohan’s daughter.

The moral compass remains hidden for most of the characters, be it Arun, Simran, Bobby or later an orthopedic surgeon (Harshavardhan), lottery ticket seller (Mangli) and driver Murali (Racha Ravi). The one who does not apologize so much for his actions, driven only by a state of survival, is Simran.

Nithiin seems to enjoy being part of the mainstay in mainstream Telugu films, and Nabha is free to play the girl. It’s not a complicated part and it does well. It is interesting that Tamannaah called herself by her name, but her Telugu dictionary does not use it. Alas, it’s not Tabu.

The biggest tweak from the original comes at the end of the fog. The end of Andhadhun sparked controversy. Sriram Raghavan had said the intention was to leave it open for comment. Merlapaka Gandhi, however, leaves no room for ambiguity.

For those watching Andhadhun, the Maestro may be a soft spot. For some, there may be something to chew on, since Telugu cinema does not usually cover such issues. The biggest problem, however, is about redoing. In later years, Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya and Evaru excelled at translating the original stories wisely. Most of the other independent remakes and frameworks seem unnecessary in the digital age where original articles are readily available for viewing.

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