It was last week when I witnessed one of the Euphorias of the Year in the form of Spiderman – No Way Home. Marvel Studios have truly taken the superhero genre to the next level. But this week, we have a another one of our home grown superheroes who is making his debut on Netflix. And with that I finished watching the new Malayalam film Minnal Murali on Netflix. This has been the year when quite a few of us have discovered the genius of Malayalam films. Not only have they tapped each and every genre but have always nailed them with their concepts and storytelling techniques. If ever there was one genre that may not have been tapped then it was the superhero genre. But now that also has been breached, whether it has turned out to be heroic or not, stay tuned.
Story & Screenplay
Minnal Murali follows the story of an average joe who is struck by lightening only to end up with superpowers. But as they say in all spiderman films – With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility! The story is quite brilliant and works like a dream for an origin story. The very fact that this is situated in a small town/village makes this film even more interesting. The screenplay is meticulously written and aren’t we privy of it already from The Malayalam Film Industry! Usually there is a considerable amount of buildup in any origin story of a superhero. But after a point you want the makers to get straight to the point. However, here the situations created are quite interesting during the buildup. What I really liked it that the writers did take an effort to provide a logical conclusion to almost every scene. So there are literally no creative liberties which are taken, everything happens for a reason. And so one event leads to another in a bid to establishing the protagonist as a superhero. There is a parallel track on the antagonist as well. Another quality to note is that the antagonist isn’t a dark character by nature. He has human qualities that are similar to you and me including an emotional angle which is a rarity in superhero films.
The humour that is integrated is fantastic and I found myself laughing hysterically on more than one instances. The emotional thread is subtle and maintained throughout. While we get a first glimpse of the superhero at around the halfway mark, the tempo is maintained throughout the second hour. A small complaint that I had was that towards the end the film did get a little cliched even for a superhero film. But the proceedings are interesting and will keep you glued to your screens throughout. Overall, a superbly well written screenplay that says true to the place it is set in(and doesn’t digress like say into space or another dimension).
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues range from funny to at times being poignant and quite a few of them leave a lasting impact. The music is fabulous and I loved the way the songs were placed in the narrative such that they did not stall the flow of the drama. The BGM is pulsating and does its bit in heightening the drama. The VFX are good but they could have been much better. The cinematography is astonishingly brilliant capturing some of the most breathtaking frames with panache. The action sequences are extremely well choreographed. Director Basil Joseph does a fantastic job in nailing the superhero genre. Each and every emotion is meticulously placed in the narrative that doesn’t confuse the audience and instead engages with them. This is a huge green tick in the report card for the direction.
The performances are brilliant here. Sneha Babu as Nalini has her moments to shine. Aju Varghese as PC Rameshan is brilliant and he excels in a few comic moments too. Jude Anthany Joseph aa Sajith is first rate. Femina George as Bruce Lee Biji has a charming quality to her and she does a fabulous job. Rajesh Madhavan as PC Titto has an incredible sense of comic timing. Guru Somasundaram as Shibu is the perfect antagonist to our superhero. The emotional track which he has is something that sets him apart from other supervillains. He lives through each emotion perfectly. And Tovino Thomas as Jaison is absolutely brilliant here. Just such a flawless performance, he looks every bit of a superhero with his appearance. Minnal Murali is right up there with any of our home grown superheroes. The fan boy in me of Tovino Thomas has now woken up!
Minnal Murali is a delightfully heroic film from The Malayalam Film Industry. An origin story for the ages, this is one helluva final hoorah for the year from an industry that is consistently raising the bar! Available on Netflix and Highly Recommended.