Like a mediocre TV soap
Imagine you’re stuck in an ATM, and are in mortal danger. You’ve just seen a man murder two people outside the ATM with a crowbar. He’s now sizing you up from outside, but is reluctant to walk up to you, lest he be captured by the CCTV camera. What do you do? I’ll tell you what the three main characters of Maiem do. They have leisurely conversations with a man in an adjacent room — Shankar (Robo Shankar) — through a literal hole in the wall. They also indulge in casual homonym-related humour.
“What phone do you have?”
“I didn’t ask you about a fruit.”
I beg you, don’t be that guy in the theatre who laughs loudly at such jokes.
In addition, these ‘victims’ make Shankar mimic the voices of ‘ thala ’, ‘ thalapathy ’ and Suriya, leaving you tearing your hair out in frustration. Why aren’t they scared for their lives? How are these people coolly making bad jokes? Why don’t they care? It’s almost like they’re all suffering from dissociative identity disorder. One moment, they’re scared. The next, they talk and act as though they are all on vacation. And then a moment later, they go back to being all anxious again. The writing is just horribly — and I use that word lightly — inconsistent.
This is all, of course, looking beyond the shockingly ordinary production values. From the acting to the music, it’s all reminiscent of soaps aired by regional TV channels. But you’re willing to cut some slack. When a group of youngsters get together to make a movie, as they have for Maiem , all you really expect is sincerity in storytelling. But as policemen usually tell bystanders at crime scenes, “Keep walking. Nothing here.”
There’s a twist at the end that tries to redeem the whole film, but even by half-time, you’re resigned to the mind-numbing mediocrity of it all. Even if Maiem had the greatest twist since Keyser Soze’s identity in The Usual Suspects , it wouldn’t have made an iota of difference. The biggest thrill I got from this thriller was realising that I had greater tolerance for bad films than I previously thought.