Movie Name: Minnal Murali
Director: Basil Joseph
Little Jaison (Tovino Thomas) is thrilled as he watches a play at the village carnival. As his eyes light up, a tragedy strikes. A freak fire claims several lives and Jaison himself is thrown away. But he sees his father being a real-life hero. That’s exactly where Jaison gets his idea of superheroes from. As he grows up, he becomes a man-child with eccentric fashion sense. Helping out in his father’s tailoring business, Jaison, just like every one of us, wants to go to the US in search of a better living.
One day, Jaison suffers heartbreak and a bolt of lightning strikes him. Not just him, Selvan (Guru Somasundaram), who works at a tea stall, gets struck as well. Both of them get superpowers. While one of them becomes the messiah of the masses, the other chooses a different path. What happens when the two face each other, forms the story.
It’s 2021, and we have so many superhero stories every year. From Batman to the very latest Spider-Man, we are introduced to several multiverses and franchises. While we always look up to Hollywood, Minnal Murali comes as a surprise. It’s no less than these Hollywood superheroes. It is, in fact, a film that has the heart of a superhero flick, but uniquely is set in a village in Kerala.
Director Basil Joseph, along with writers Arun Anirudhan and Justin Mathew, worked on a screenplay that had several surprises in store. While it takes its sweet time to arrive, when it does, the story gets interesting. There are no outrightly good or bad characters in the world of Minnal Murali. Even the antagonist, Selvan, has a heart-wrenching backstory where he is let down at every crucial point in his life. On the other hand, Jaison’s progress from being a man-child to the messiah of the masses has a lot of ups and downs too.
We see the lives of Jaison and Selvan parallelly. Minnal Murali also makes fun of the United States of America. In a scene, Jaison’s nephew says, “America is full of superheroes and they saved the country.” The clever wits are sprinkled throughout the screenplay and it is what makes Minnal Murali an interesting watch. The scenes where Jaison and Selvan find out their identities are nicely done.
The film has a perfect ending, so to say. It is a reminder of the film’s introduction scene, but the tables have turned. Minnal Murali is a perfect ode to a superhero film with a flavour of Kerala. Tovino Thomas is brilliant in the film and the transformation he goes through is shown in an empathetic way. But, Guru Somasundaram steals the show like he always does in his Tamil films.
Even the women in the film do not appear as damsels in distress. Be it ‘Bruce Lee’ Biji (Femina George) or Selvan’s crush, they have agency in a film dominated by men and some of their problematic gaze.
One of the disadvantages of Minnal Murali is its pacing in the first half. With a runtime of two hours and thirty-eight minutes, Minnal Murali is a neat watch. Background score by Sushin Shyam and the songs by him and Shaan Rahman are soothing to hear.
In short, Minnal Murali is our very own superhero film with its heart in the right place.
3 out of 5 stars for Minnal Murali.
Minnal Murali will start streaming on Netflix from December 24.