Star Cast: Tovino Thomas, Guru Somasundaram, Vasisht Umesh, Femina George, and ensemble
Director: Basil Joseph
What’s Good: That the movie isn’t trying to prove a point that we can do it to, it tries to co-exist beautifully. Tovino Thomas is a powerhouse, so is Guru Somasundaram.
What’s Bad: The self indulgence of the writers at one point goes too ahead and they forget to stop, making a sequence look stretched.
Loo Break: The pace with which the Malayalam cinema is progressing, they aren’t taking breaks for sure, you shouldn’t too!
Watch or Not?: Please! Witness the strength Indian storytellers have and what we should exactly be investing our time and money in. This is the future, not the regression packed with the beautiful cover of ‘mass entertainment’.
Language: Malayalam (With English Subtitles)
Available On: Netflix
Runtime: Around 2 and a half hours.
A completely self-obsessed 20 something man Jaison (Tovino Thomas) is busy figuring out what to do with his life after his girlfriend dumps him. One fine night the village seeing thundering and the lightening strikes Jaison. Wait he isn’t dead, but something has changed. The boy realises his power and tries to use it for good. But lesser does he know that he isn’t the only one whom the lightening strike. Rises a villain (Selvan aka Guru) and now Minnal Murali has to save the village from him.
Minnal Murali Movie Review: Script Analysis
The superhero culture in itself is a phenomenon everyone interprets as per their understanding of it. For some, it is just people with higher moral values and some unique powers, while for many they are just theme park rides. But with time it has become a deeper study of the catharsis that goes on inside the head of these humans with superpowers. Setting an Indian superhero from a landscape so obsessed with itself and completely rural is an idea that looks impossible. But trust the sensibilities of Malayalam creators to do the impossible.
Minnal Murali, Netflix’s latest offering is neither trying to be the MCUs and DCEUs of the world, nor trying to show the west that we can do it too. The movie kind of aims at co-existing. Remember how Chloé Zhao was aware of the fact that Ikaris does resemble Superman in Eternals and she acknowledged it right there? Just like that. And that is where the makers hit gold and give the Tovino Thomas starrer its own soul.
Writers Arun Anirudhan and Justin Mathew both seem to be comic lovers. First 10 minutes and you realise how they shaped the universe of Minnal Murali like one is reading the comic book. ‘Once upon a time there was boy’, is how they write this tale. But they are also aware that not a whole lot of audience out here reads them. So there are real-world elements bringing the viewer close to their created universe. People are waiting for Chitrahar on Doordarshan, boys are wearing fake Adidas t-shirts and the bad man has a compass box which has his and his crush’s name engraved on it, cute.
So coming to the superhero part (because emotions is a department Malayalam has time and again excelled already). As mentioned before, it is almost an impossible task to blend a character with superpowers in the Indian Landscape and people not calling him/her a god. To overcome this, the writers completely blend their two pivotal men in their surroundings and leave no chance that people will worship either.
The writing goes deeper as they explore their powers. Both Jaison and Selvan are like Superman and Zod. Born out of the same thing but chose polar opposite sides to work for, leading to a battle between the two and you have to watch the film for the conclusion. That is exactly where the morals come in. Superhero movies before Sam Raimi made them into ‘genre breaking’ star vehicles, were always about teaching something. Shaktiman told kids to not lie, Superman was the most powerful man in the universe and discipline is what he beamed with. You understand.
So do the writers who never go into the dynamic of framing one bad. Selvan always gets a justification and consequence for each of his actions. He might be doing the ruthless of the things, but there have also been times when he was on the receiving end. His love story is the most traumatic part of the whole script. You will see and let me know if it breaks you too. But the writers subtly mention the taboos in society there and only some will observe.
A big reveal about Jaison’s birth is used so BTW that it doesn’t create the effect it should. If the makers decide to make a complete universe out of this, that twist might be a plot for an entire more. But Minnal Murali doesn’t give it a whole lot of attention.
Minnal Murali Movie Review: Star Performance
Tovino Thomas has a range and a range enough to cover a platter full of characters. Before you get into Minnal Murali, watch his performance in Virus. A very limited part but leaves a mark. You will see the shades he can bring on screen and how effortlessly. As Jaison he goes through a coming of age drama. From being a hopeless, to the most powerful in town, he shines in every frame.
Guru Somasundaram is how you cast the antagonist. He isn’t cast to highlight Tovino but both are in a constant hustle to make their characters better. There are moments when Guru is in love and the instantly turn into rage, the actor does a prolific job. Watch out when he breaks free, what a magnificent show!
Minnal Murali Movie Review: Direction, Music
Basil Joseph is a filmmaker who knows how to turn ambitions into reality. He directs Minnal Murali keeping in mind that there are many other projects he will be directly compared to. In his direction he makes sure the focus does not just stay on the two, he very much makes the surrounding a character. The landscape is so away from reality that you don’t really see people coming in or going out.
Filmmaker-Producer-DOP Sameer Thahir uses his camera to create some amazing visuals. From the colour pallets to the entire framing, everything is intriguing and demands your attention every single minute.
Sushim Shyam’s background score is the perfect cherry on cake and makes the whole experience more enhanced.
Minnal Murali Movie Review: The Last Word
It was till last year filmmakers were discussing if a superhero universe can be set in an Indian landscape or not. Malayalam creators were making Minnal Murali then. Watch it and witness the talent we as a country have.
Minnal Murali Trailer
Minnal Murali releases on 16 December, 2021.
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Fan of social dramas? Read our Jai Bhim Movie Review here!