Nov 13 2017


Published by at 9:42 pm under Review,Tamil Cinema


If Atlee’s Theri was based on the Baasha template, the director goes back even further to one of the oldest stories – sons separated when young and later uniting to take revenge on the man who killed their father – for Mersal, his second film with Vijay. He injects a few topical issues, throws in some social commentary and packages it all with some rich production values and an eye on entertainment but all that can’t hide the fact that the film is still old, unoriginal wine in a new bottle.

If the fact that Vijay was playing three roles in the film wasn’t trumpeted before the release, the first half could have worked better in misdirecting the viewer and making the proceedings suspenseful. We see a doctor Maaran(Vijay), who treats patients for Rs. 5 back home in India, talk passionately about humanity and free healthcare for all at a conference in Belgium, interact with his mom(Kovai Sarala) and woo a doctor Anupallavi(Kajal Agarwal). But we also see him perform magic as he beats up some robbers and then target a senior doctor(Hareesh Peradi), who he proceeds to kill in front of a big audience during a magic show.

The humanitarian doctor/vengeful magician is is an interesting combination that could have piqued our interest. But knowing about Vijay’s triple role beforehand, we simply wait for the twist that we know is coming. The way the twist is revealed is perfunctory and makes little impact(a little more time could have been spent on showing us how we were tricked until then). Before that we are given another superficial romance, this time between Maaran and Tara(Samantha), a reporter who interviews him. Like Kajal, Samantha sticks around for the obligatory duet and has nothing more to do.

The superficial way in which the screenplay is handled leads to several logical loopholes in these places. As in Aboorva Sagotharargal, one brother gets in trouble for the doings of the other but the situation leads to neither comedy nor suspense as it is hardly given time to develop. It is simply used for a single fight sequence before being used as a lead-in to the obligatory flashback.

The seed for medical malpractice has been laid earlier since the film begins with the kidnapping of some people connected with the field of medicine. The transformation of medicine into business eventually turns out to be the film’s crux as the film touches upon a number of subjects like forced cesarean births, doctors hiding patient deaths(this was shown in Ramanaa too), collusion between different people working at a hospital, etc. Recent tragic news items related to the field are also used to drive home the point. Barring the opening sequence, which is eventually traced back to some unfortunate deaths, the events related to medical atrocities happen in the flashback as Vetrimaaran(Vijay) and his wife(Nitya Menen, who has a little more to do than both other heroines) establish a hospital in their village and are then duped by Daniel(S.J.Suryah), a rich doctor. The flashback is really violent and lays the sentiments on thick but is also the segment that resonates somewhat since both Vetrimaaran and his wife are fleshed out more than the other characters.

As a star Vijay dances(the Mersal Arasan… song is the pick of the lot), fights and delivers punchlines with gusto but as an actor probably at the peak of his career, its disappointing that he makes no effort to distinguish between the 3 characters he plays. Being bearded is as far as he goes to differentiate one role from the other two and he plays all three roles in the same manner(he did this in Azhagiya Thamizh Magan too where he played the bad guy in the same style that he plays all his other roles). He doesn’t even go as far as he did in Kaththi, where he played Jeevanandham as a pacifist throughout. But here the doctor, who we first see being harassed at a foreign airport, saving a woman and then accepting a humanitarian award, initially looks to be calm and dignified but he becomes thara local when threatened by a senior doctor and ends up fighting too when the opportunity presents itself.

10 responses so far

10 Responses to “Mersal”

  1. Prakash Rao says:

    Another easy miss for me. But looks like this one is minting money, thanks to the GST dialog controversy. So there goes any incentive for him to do anything different.

  2. Jordan says:

    Oh burn, when some reviewers were going all gaga and googoo over Vijay’s performance(s), glad that you expressed how he didn’t bother differentiate much. I think he’s become a lazy actor. He should learn from Suriya-Vikram, who clearly put in more effort than add a beard.

    Btw, this interview of SAC is more Mersal than the movie itself. Seeing him getting vechu senjified by Pandey over GST and how his son is doing nothing for the people (even though he always claims to do through films), is so jokes.

  3. Reza says:

    Never rated Atlee as a director, all 3 movies hes trying to emulate something, he should stop doing n take a leaf out of M. RAJA n make an original like thani oruvan. Theri n kaththi were average movies as i thot atlee didnt have the freedom to do what he wants. Vijays image, hes hero get ups, slow mo walks, punch dialogues n singing praise of him are irritatiing at its best.

  4. Balaji says:

    Prakash, yeah this one is among Tamil cinema’s all-time blockbusters, thanks to all those controversies. That loss of incentive for him to do something different will be the biggest disappointment.

    Jordan, the 2 sons were brothers, not even twins, but he didn’t bring in even iota of difference between the two. That was very disappointing.

    Reza, Kaththi was from Murugadoss. The image, punch dialogs, slomo walks, etc. come with the territory for any big hero and so I wasn’t turned off by those. It was Vijay not doing anything different in the other scenes that was a bigger disappointment.

  5. Reza says:

    Balaji sorry what i meant was Mersal, not kaththi.

  6. Nikitha says:

    On a side note, it’s so disappointing to see Nithya Menon forever typecast into these kind of roles.
    An actress with so much potential :/

  7. Prakash Rao says:

    Nithya Menen’s role seems exactly the same as the one in Surya’s ’24’!

    Btw, I think she looks quite a bit like (the late actress) Soundarya. Anyone else feel the same?

  8. Balaji says:

    Nikitha, totally agree. She was phenomenal in OK Kanmani and its disappointing to see her pushed into these young mother roles in star vehicles.

    Prakash, hope she doesn’t get typecast in “young mother dying violently” roles!
    Now that you mention it, I do see some resemblance :)

  9. Jordan says:

    Yeah, I’m also upset that Nithya is getting typecast in these roles. She’s someone who has a lot of potential, like a Kangana or Vidya up north, but Tamil cinema has to waste it, as expected. It’s up to Mani Ratnam to give her a stunning role again.

  10. Girish says:

    Prakash: For me she resembled for of Vidya Balan. Especially after watching Tumhari Sulu.