Sandalwood
Though the actors have performed well, the film falls back on a predictable formula.
Timepass

In an industry dominated by mass heroes, a well-made heroine-centric film is a welcome change. Mahira, a suspense thriller made on a relatively low budget, and with an amalgamation of newbies and veterans in the cast, had upped the ante with an electrifying trailer and unique promotional strategies on social media. The movie had grabbed the headlines for all the right reasons and was touted to become one of the most entertaining thrillers of this year.

And it could have been one, if the makers had taken care of a few important elements that have ended up denting the narration of the film. The film opens in a coastal region where Maya (Virginia Rodrigues) and her daughter Adya (Chaitra Achar) are living a happy life, running a beach café. Their life suddenly turns upside down when Adya assaults a boy and the video becomes viral on social media. Within a few days, there are cops, terrorists, and men from the underworld thronging the café, targeting Maya. Maya now has to run and run very fast. But, despite running, she is well aware that the only place she would end up in is her gory past.

But, if Adya is the one who has assaulted the boy, why are so many people targeting Maya? Still waters run deep. But how deep? Within a few minutes into the film, one will be able to figure out the age-old storyline. An undercover cop, living a life in hiding, far away from the city, only to come out stronger and launch an attack on the criminals. This has been the most-used formula in a lot of films. From Rajinikanth’s Baasha to the recent Shivarajkumar film Rustom, the plot is very familiar. Except that in Mahira, it is a woman, who leads the pack.  

Virginia Rodrigues is all "mass" as the undercover cop. Her majestic appearance and gait bring thundering applause from the crowd. She has excelled in action sequences and though this is her debut movie, she stands on par with veterans like Malashree, Vijayashanti and Ragini. Her height and personality are an added advantage. She has also excelled in emotional scenes with Chaitra Achar.

Raj B Shetty as Pratap is a treat to watch. He makes the audience laugh with his mannerisms and just when we think of him as a comedian in a supporting role, he forays into the main picture with more meat to his role, which is very well written. Veteran actors Balaji Manohar, M K Matha, Gopalakrishna Deshpande, Dilip Raj, K S Sridhar have contributed their best too.

Director Mahesh Gowda has announced his arrival loudly and has proved that he can make a decent film in a minimum budget. Cinematographer Keerthan Pujari is brilliant. From real shots of the coastal region to silhouette fighting shots of Virginia, he tries to bring freshness in every scene. However, editor Ashiq could have reduced the 148-minute thriller by a few minutes to keep the pace up. Mithun Mukundan’s background score helps in the smooth running of the film. 

All said and done though, Mahira tries to be different only to end up being the same-old. The film lacks the speed one expects in a thriller. It has several attention-grabbing chase and fight sequences – some of them inspired by Hollywood films – blended with emotional sequences. And sometimes, one feels that the emotional drama is overpowering the thriller, which is one of the major flaws here. These sequences act as speed-breakers on a racing track, taking the thrill out of the race. The plot fizzles out during the climax, snatching away the whole point of a thriller film. The lack of attention to negative characters during the scripting stage is glaring.

Mahira feels like a wasted opportunity.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.