The Malayalam film industry, in the past few years, has stood out when it comes to dropping the most unique and engaging content in cinema. So, when the industry stepped into the superhero genre, the excitement and anticipation around it became palpable. And with Netflix acquiring Minnal Murali the film got a much bigger platform. While the makers do not vouch for it to be the first superhero film from Kerala, it is surely the first to have left an impact even before its release. But, does the film live up to its hype?
Minnal Murali Review: Tovino Thomas’ desi superhero gets it right
Jaison (Tovino Thomas) is a tailor from Kurukkanmoola in Wayanad district of Kerala. He aspires to move to America and make a career in fashion. While he does come across as the best dressed man in his village, his knowledge on fashion is limited and far from accurate. On one of the nights leading up to Christmas in the mid-90s, he gets struck by lightning and is immediately taken to the hospital. On examination, the doctor finds that he is surprisingly unharmed. However, during an ECG test, the machine attached to him catches fire, giving the first hint of his extraordinary power. Over the course of time, Jaison observes peculiarities in himself, but it is his smart geeky nephew who decodes that he has acquired super powers because of the lightning. Together, they test out the powers he has acquired like super strength and super hearing. His nephew educates him about superheroes of the west like Superman, Batman, and Spiderman. Thrilled by this unexpected turn of events, Jaison hopes to go to America and join the superheroes in the west. However, Jaison is not aware that he is not the only person to have been struck by lightning that night and survived. What happens next makes the rest of the story.
The superhero genre is one of the most difficult genres as Marvel and DC films have set a benchmark which serves as a reference point for the audience. The Malayalam film industry operates on a minimal budget. What the film lacks in VFX and CGI (owing to budget), it makes up for with Arun Anirudhan and Justin Mathew’s story and skillful writing. Considering that it is an origin story, the film has done a good job of focusing on establishing the character of Jaison and the people in his life. We are introduced to a Jaison who does not shy away from expressing his emotions whether it is anger, happiness, humour, or even sadness. At the same time, there are some similar yet distinct characters being developed on the other side of the village, which draws an interesting parallel between two similar circumstances yet two very different outcomes.
Basil Joseph has given life to Arun and Justin's story with his direction. He has done a commendable job of setting up the world of Minnal Murali. From Manichitrathazhu (superhit Malayalam film released in 1993) references, to well fleshed out characters from the now-forgotten pre-internet era to presenting a culturally and geographically rooted superhero, Minnal Murali is all heart and very smartly deals with the good vs bad trope.
The characters in the film are its strength. Talking about the performances, Tovino Thomas has proven to be the perfect casting for Jaison aka Minnal Murali. He easily and convincingly navigates from the expressive young man to the much more sensible and concerned Minnal Murali as he fights the people who are in the wrong. Guru Somasundaram as the villain is exceptional. The young Vashisht Umesh as Jaison’s nephew who helps him discover his superpowers is the perfect non-superhero sidekick. The little one oozes confidence and nailed his dialogue delivery. Aju Varghese is good as the suspicious police officer and the short-tempered brother-in-law of Jaison. Femina George as the martial arts instructor Bruce Lee has a striking presence. Harisree Asokan who is known for his impeccable comic timing yet again proves his versatility with a serious role. Baiju as the police inspector and Rajesh Madhavan as the constable make an impact with their performance. Shelly Nabu Kumar, Sneha Babu, Devi Chandana, Jude Anthany Joseph, and Mammukoya shine as the supporting cast.
The music of Minnal Murali is the soul of the film. Every song seamlessly blends into the narrative. Whether it is the Christmas song or 'Thee Minnal' song where we see Minnal Murali's first fight sequence in a red feathery mask and mundu, the songs only uplift the narrative. The heartwarming song 'Uyire' is pure magic as it makes you see the film through the lens of another important character. Needless to say, music directors Shaan Rahman and Sushin Shyam have done an incredible job.
Cinematographer Sameer Thahir who is also a well-known director has beautifully captured Jaison’s world. The frames of the scenes where Jaison is discovering his powers are outstanding. Livingston Mathew’s editing is fine. Art director Manu Jagadh has done an impressive job especially with the climax set. Visual effects by Vishakh Babu, Andrew Jacob DCrus, Arunlal S Pillai play a vital role in the climax and are very well executed. Melwy J’s costumes give the 90s Kerala village vibe without being over the top.
On the whole, Minnal Murali is a rooted superhero story with a soul and is here to stay. The film gives you a wholesome experience and leaves you with the hope of a full-fledged superhero franchise.
Rating: 3.5 stars
BOLLYWOOD NEWS - LIVE UPDATES
Catch us for latest Bollywood News, New Bollywood Movies update, Box office collection, New Movies Release , Bollywood News Hindi, Entertainment News, Bollywood Live News Today & Upcoming Movies 2023 and stay updated with latest hindi movies only on Bollywood Hungama.