MERSAL (2017)

Critic - No.131
Director: Atlee
Casts: Vijay, Nithya Menon, SJ Surya, Sathyaraj, Vadivelu, Kajal Agarwal, Samantha
Music: A.R.Rahman
Language: Tamil
Genre: Crime / Thriller

Maran, a noble doctor is arrested as the main suspect for a kidnapping case and a brutal murder case. However, things take a turn when he reveals that it is a case of mistaken identity. 

Atlee-Vijay’s combo has become one of the strongest director-actor combination in Kollywood with a very strong marketing work done by the production team. With a stupendous success with their previous blockbuster, ‘Theri’, ‘Mersal’ opened to sky high expectations.

As Shankar’s prodigy, Atlee always have had a sharp voice about the social disorders in India and particularly in Tamil Nadu. The young film maker has continued that voice in ‘Mersal’ too, highlighting the results of the corruption in the Medical industry in India. There are also bold and striking dialogues that recommends solution for the inflated costs by comparing to the medical model of the neighbouring countries. Even though some of the cross references and facts are not factually accurate, Atlee should be commended for his concern on these social issues. Ramana Girivasan's hard hitting dialogues, ignites even a simple scene.

So, is ‘Mersal’ a straight social drama? Definitely not. The film is loaded with commercial conventions that majorly work in terms of the non-linear storytelling and the emotionally impactful flashback of ‘Thalapathy’. Even though the film relies heavily on the hill old formula of revenge and sibling separation stories, the presentation is where the film scores. Despite running for almost 3 hours, the audience might not feel any lag at all. Atlee has tried to play with Vijay strength and added many elements not to please only Vijay fans but also the general commercial film lovers. Being technically rich, ‘Mersal’ boasts with clean, exotic cinematography, extensive art direction and decent CGIs. Not forgetting AR.Rahman’s majestic BGM and the crowd puller, ‘Aalaporan Thamizhan’ that will undoubtedly evoke goose bumps among any audience. However, ‘Maacho’ and ‘Neethane’ song placements look forced.

On the flipside, some of the scenes look disjointed and there are too many basic plot holes that are left open for the audience to figure out on their own. The logic behind the brothers’ separation and the police investigation have taken a slip at most parts. Most of the scenes look chopped towards the end (which might be due to the length) that leaves a lot of gap in terms of storytelling. The two female leads, Kajal and Samantha are solely used for branding and have no significance to the story. But on the other end, Nithya Menon sparkles with her limited but strong screen space. SJ Suryah’s antics are interesting as usual but the character looks single dimensional.

So the ultimate question that is derived from all these negatives is whether the film would have worked without Vijay? If ‘Raja Rani’ was inspired from ‘Mouna Raagam’, ‘Theri’ was derived from the plot of ‘Sethupathi IPS’. And now Mersal, that borrows the basic line of ‘Apoorva Sagothargal’. Atlee slams that point by saying cinema is an old medium and everyone does that. But aren’t the new wave film makers who have cropped in the recent years not churning out original stories? This film entertains and there's no doubt about it's potential to break box office records. But it will be interesting to see how Atlee etches his identity as a film maker after this stupendous success.

Driven by Vijay's dynamic charisma and performance, Atlee crafts a socially responsible film disguised as a high voltage commercial entertainer.



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