Mersal movie review: For Vijay and his fans, Atlee has delivered a celebratory film

Post Theri, Vijay and director Atlee combo came in for much praise. Add to that, the phenomenal response Mersal’s posters, trailer and songs are received. Mersal looks to be a winner.
Mersal stars Vijay in a triple roles.
Mersal stars Vijay in a triple roles.
Updated on Oct 18, 2017 09:03 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By, New Delhi

Director - Atlee
Cast - Vijay, Kajal Aggarwal, Samantha Akkineni
Rating - 3/5

There can be no doubt that Mersal is a story written for actor Vijay. Each frame, dialogue, action and reaction celebrates the actor, and what he does best. Vijay is better off when he spews dialogue with restraint. Not loud, but he levels off well with SJ Suryah, who is a theatrical foil.

Performing like this is something that Vijay excels at, and director Atlee has used this to the film’s advantage. From demonetisation, racism, to entry to politics, he’s stuffed it all into his film. As the plot unravels, there is so much happening on screen that one is engrossed, not with the story but with all the distracting elements.

The plot is not new, but the premise is. After the reveal prior to the interval, there is no surprise in terms of the story. Till then, the movie keeps you hooked with its non-linear narration. After that it is all about highly dramatic sequences. The flashback is the heart of the movie. The Alapporan song set in Punjab, Vetrimaaran and Aishwarya’s love story, and how it all took a tragic turn is what this part of the film is about.

Kajal Aggarwal (Anu Pallavi) and Samantha Akkineni’ s (Tara) are no more than love interests. Nithya Menon (Aishwarya Vetrimaaran), however, plays a pivotal role in the film. It’s a strong role that sets things in motion. Sathyaraj as the investigator behind a string of murders interests us initially more than SJ Suryah (Daniel), whose primary function seems to be to lose his temper. His performance is much better in the flashback scene. While Vadivelu plays a connection of sorts to the past and present, Kovai Sarala’s role is much too short.

Vijay plays a magician in the film and magic is surely one of the highlights, not only because the actor performed it himself, but for the beautiful way in which it is shot. In fact, the entire movie has stunning visuals. From the beautiful imagery of Neethane, to the shots of the magic show performed at a theatre in Paris, they are all beautiful to look at.

All of this combined with Atlee’s talent to tell a story high on emotion has made Mersal just what Vijay’s fans ordered. Adding the ‘tamizh’ emotion with MGR movies scene shots, Bharathiyar in the background and addressing foreign people in Tamil, the film does connect with you.

Mersal is not about the story. It’s about the way it is delivered. The revenge drama concentrates on cleaning up corruption in the medical system. Daniel, who plays the role of a doctor, is the head of the food chain that feeds off of black money from the health department. What he sows in the past, he reaps in the future. In fact, one of the popular dialogues in the film is about this sentiment. This sentiment is the crux of the story.

People who troll Vijay, people who request him to join politics, who criticize him, they all seem to find a place in the film. The final speech seems to be completely about Vijay’s stance on everything that is being discussed today. The team has combined the real and the reel, complete with humour.

The fight for land, the fight against corruption and capitalism has translated into a good popcorn entertainer that celebrates, Ilayathalapathy, now Thalapathy.

The one thing that could have been avoided was the stretchy second half and the manner in which Samantha’s character’s arc is resolved. This does make one wonder if the director tried to pack a little too much in the film than was needed.

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