Having the same title Maya Bazaar as the cult classic evokes curiosity. And that increases when you have a tag line like 'Myth, magic and money.'
The film opens in with Kubera, the lord of wealth, granting a loan to Lord Venkateswara to enable him to marry Padmavathi. Legend goes that the lord is still repaying the debt to Kubera.
In the film, Kubera incurs the wrath of a sage one day, as he refuses to give money to him for his daughter's wedding. For his redemption, Kubera needs to find a good human being and help him. At this stage, the audience may wonder whether they have come to watch a mythological recreated. But after a couple of scenes, the film shifts to the contemporary world.
Sreenivas (Raja) is the son of a poor peasant, who administers poison to his wife, children and himself. But Sreenivas survives and lands up in a city as a driver.
Although poor, he always dreams of becoming rich and doing good to humanity. He wants to help the poor and get rid of hunger and poverty.
One day, as he goes to the airport to drop his employer (Tanikella Bharani), he notices a little girl sitting on a chair clutching a doll in her hand. When he returns to the airport the same evening, he finds the girl crying. Being a good Samaritan, he takes her home.
Soon, he discovers she has a hole in her heart and has to undergo a surgery costing Rs 3 lakh. He is unable to raise the money and takes the girl to Tirupati. He sends her to a temple with his friend Bhaskar (Ali) and waits outside, criticising God for making a young girl suffer. And lo behold, a man appears who gives him Rs 5 lakh.
Asking Sreenivas to keep the meeting a secret, he extracts a promise that he will take whatever he wants from Sreenivas when he needs it. The happy Sreenivas gets the girl operated and with the balance, opens a canteen with the hope of feeding people.
Sreenivas then goes on to become a rich tycoon with a heart of gold.
He keeps bumping into Anupama (Bhumika Chawla) for whom everything is a thrill -- right from falling before Sreenivas' car to capturing him on camera. She is a mysterious character and one has to see the film to find out who she is.
Maya Bazaar explores the relationship between money and God in an interesting way. It seems to seamlessly blend social and fantasy elements. On one level, fantasy is juxtaposed with the abject reality.
In a sense, a man like Sreenivas seems slightly utopian in today's context. The power of money is paramount yet Sreenivas remains rooted in the ideal principle of doing good to humanity even when he is surrounded by riches.
Raja is the perfect choice for this role. In fact, he lends a helping hand to social causes in real life too.
Bhumika Chawla is pretty and alluring and walks through her role.
The man who plays his role with aplomb is S P Balasubrahmanyan. As Kubera, he is very charming.
K M Radhakrishna has come up with some good tunes but his repertoire seems to be getting repetitive. But there are too many songs in the film.
A huge plus for the movie is the special effects. It is done very well, especially the pushpaka vimana and the palace. The sepia-toned montage of the poor peasant's struggle seems to be inspired by Bimal Roy's Do Bigha Zameen.
Maya Bazaar is a clean entertainer. For an audience brought up on mainstream cinema filled with songs, violence, inane humour, double entrendres, vulgarity and 'super' heroes,' Maya Bazaar may not sustain their interest. But it remains to be seen whether this film, with the theme of myth, money and magic, will find favour with them.