Story: Rishi ( Mahesh Babu ) is a billionaire and the CEO of Origins, someone who has always strived for the success he now owns. His friend Ravi (Allari Naresh) needs help, how will he come through?
Review: It’s not the first time that Indian cinema has tried to address a prevalent social issue through commercially entertaining means. And that is exactly what Maharshi does – going from being the story of a man who wants to dream beyond his means to someone who will go on to be the people’s saviour, even if it’s not something he actively seeks out.
Rishi (Mahesh Babu) climbs the corporate ladder hard and fast till he’s the CEO of a company called Origins. It has always been his dream to achieve success and to not be like his father (Prakash Raj) whom he views as a failure. So much so, that his fear of failure keeps pushing him to do better than he ever wants to. But he soon finds out it is his college friend Ravi (Allari Naresh) to whom he owes his success. Seeking out his old friend at Ramavaram, Rishi is pushed into something far more than just repaying a debt he owes.
Maharshi is a film that, while commercially entertaining, is hard to describe. One moment you’re looking at a man ascending to the role of a CEO and the other you’re laughing along with three friends being silly at college. The third moment you find yourself being pushed, just like Rishi, into something much bigger than you bargained for, something much bigger than him no matter how important he is. While Vamshi Paidipally manages to pull off the tale of a successful man being humbled by something as simple as a farm land for the most part, he unfortunately fills it with commercial fillers which prove to be a drawback.
Maharshi is a tale that forces one to introspect and rethink their priorities in life, apart from of course; acknowledging the fact of how important the farming community is to any country. It is not the first film to do so nor will it be the last film either. But the way Vamshi goes about it is intriguing, not even trying to hide the fact that the protagonist Rishi only does anything for his own gratification, not to be the empathetic saviour. So much so that even when he tries to do more, it’s supremely easy for people around him to believe the worst of him.
Mahesh Babu delivers a stupendous performance as Rishi, slipping in as easily into the role of a college student as he does into a man who wants to fight till he gets what he wants. Allari Naresh shines as Ravi, a man who goes from being one with the herd to someone who realises where his strengths lie. While Pooja Hegde delivers an honest performance as Pooja, someone who’s always sceptical of Rishi, her character only seems to be there to tick off the girlfriend-box. This story could’ve easily done without her presence, maybe even bringing down the long run-time minus the two duets she features in.
Apart from the leads, the film features a stellar cast who deliver good performances, featuring names like Jayasudha, Rajeev Kanakala, Kamal Kamaraju, Rao Ramesh, Anish Kuruvilla, Jagapathi Babu, Vennela Kishore and even Mohan Bhagath, aka Geddam from C/o Kancharapalem who shines in the single scene he has. While Jagapathi Babu’s character Vivek Mittal gets enough screen-time, his character fails to rise beyond the usual greedy corporate honcho trope. Kamal Kamaraju and Anish Kuruvilla’s characters’ friction with Rishi too seems forced, just like the love track. DSP's BGM, apart from KU Mohanan's cinematography do justice to the film.
Maharshi is a simple story weighed down by unnecessary, commercial elements. But do go watch this one if you’re a Mahesh Babu fan, you will enjoy it if the claps and screams in the theatre this reviewer went to are anything to go by. Watch it not just for Mahesh Babu and Allari Naresh’s performances but also for the story, if you don’t mind all the bells and whistles it comes with. It might not be entertaining all through, thanks to the draggy bits, but its heart is in the right place.