BOTTOM LINE: A Good Nuanced Film That Needs A Little Oomph
Rating: 2.75 /5
Skin N Swear: Some swearing and blood.
|Platform: Netflix||Genre: Adventure, Comedy|
What Is the Story About?
After his long-time girlfriend, Bincy, dumps him for a richer man; Jaison proclaims that he will become the richest man in the village or he will die trying… and then he gets struck by lightning. At the same time, in a different part of the village, Shibu, the village “loon” also gets struck by lightning. What will happen to both of them?
There are four lead characters in the film – Jaison, Shibu, “Bruce Lee” Biji and Josemon. Josemon is the most basic superhero character among all of them – the character who provides exposition about important things like superpowers among other things. Vasisht Umesh, the actor who plays the young character is perfect for the role. However, he could have been used better in the second half of the film. Femina George who is cast as the ass-kicking Biji is also brilliant in the film. While she does not have enough screen time, she lights up the screen whenever she makes an appearance. Tovino Thomas is brilliant as always. The actor is funny, charismatic and has to play a more nuanced role than many would have thought – and he nails it.
However, the best actor in ‘Minnal Murali’ is without a doubt, Guru Somasundaram, who plays the villain in the film, Shibu. Similar to films like ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ – ‘Minnal Murali’ is a good film because of its brilliant villain. Shibu AKA the fake Minnal Murali is well written and fleshed out – in fact; he is the most relatable character in the film. And Guru gives one of the best nuanced on screen portrayals of a super villain. Also, Guru’s heavily accented Malayalam makes Shibu feel even more unhinged and dangerous.
When we heard that Mollywood is dropping the first Malayalam superhero film; we expected a film similar to ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ – a low stakes origin story. But ‘Minnal Murali’ feels more like the Tobey Maguire starrer, ‘Spider-Man 2’ – because of how well the film is written. Both Tovino Thomas and the film’s director, Basil Joseph have been insisting for a while that ‘Minnal Murali’ is a drama-comedy feature with some super-powered elements and not a superhero movie that has drama and comedy. While we did not understand what they meant at first – we do now. Let us explain.
The film primarily focuses on two characters – Jaison and Shibu. Both characters are the ones who will eventually become super-powered individuals – but both characters have a lot of things happening in the background that their powers are just another part of their character profile. Jaison is a young tailor, who after getting dumped by his girlfriend, decides to leave for the U.S. Unbeknownst to him, Jaison is also an orphan. Shibu, on the other hand, is the village loon – or he is considered as one. He has deep emotional scars after his mom killed herself due to a madness that seems to be genetic (Shibu gets unhinged sometimes as well). He is regularly made fun of by the villagers and his current living situation doesn’t help much. The film mainly shows parallels between both complex characters, to show how both of them deal with their problems.
In the beginning, we see both Jaison and Shibu use their powers for selfish reasons – beat up the cops and steal money from the bank, respectively. However, Jaison doesn’t resort to violence every chance he gets, while Shibu actually gets drunk on power – especially after he never received any respect from his fellow villagers. However, Jaison is not a saint, like how most superheroes are shown on screen – he doesn’t help out Das with his niece’s surgery even though he had the money. Similarly, Shibu is not exactly a fully-fledged villain – he is a man with psychological issues, who is in love with the only person who ever showed him any type of kindness – Usha. So, as you can see, both characters have a lot going on around them, even without the superpowers.
Their first confrontation is tense and electrifying (no pun intended) – but surprisingly Shibu backs off. He only cares about Usha and wants to take her away from the village that seems to want to harm them both. And the best part – Usha accepts him… just before she and her daughter die. And now, the super villain is born – which is predictable, but still good.
The script of this film is quite good. As we mentioned earlier, most of the characters are properly fleshed out and their motivations are relatable. However, the final screenplay has a few problems. While most of them are minor, the one that is quite bothersome – is Jaison’s motivation to become ‘Minnal Murali’. He didn’t have any recollections of his real father for a long time, but after that is mentioned to him once, all of a sudden he can remember every conversation he had with his dad. Even if we accept that is possible (using convoluted logic like it is a part of his new powers), it still does not explain Jaison’s sudden change in his dream job – from wanting to be a world-renowned clothes designer to becoming his village’s protector.
But one of the best parts of the film is its comedy. And most of them seemingly come out of nowhere. The “Bruce Lee” Biji kicks – to both Aneesh, her ex-boyfriend and Jaison are underrated gems of some quality “funny stuff”. Also the flashback featuring Jaison and Bincy’s world wind college romance is heartbreakingly funny (and relatable). The ‘Thee Minnal’ song sequence is also quite funny as well. Josemon talking about emotions while Jaison cries in the bathroom is another funny moment. A lot of comedy gems in a film that was expected to have a lot more action.
The superhero portions of the film need work, though. After seeing some brilliant Hollywood CG, ‘Minnal Murali’s’ CG pales by comparison. Still it was not as bad as many of us expected it would be. However, the editing is the bigger problem in this film. The editing during super-power action sequences especially in the second half of the film needs a lot of work. Music composers deserve a special mention as well.
Overall, ‘Minnal Murali’ is a good attempt at a Malayalam superhero movie. Of course, there can be even more improvements – but some quality acting, comedy and music makes this movie quite memorable. If nothing else, watch it for the villain.
Baiju, Aju Varghese and Rajesh Madhavan are brilliant as the trio of cops who are on the lookout for Minnal Murali – while also acting as antagonists to Jaison. Sneha Babu and Jude Anthany Joseph portray a newly-wed couple that we all love to hate. Harisree Asokan and Shelly Nabu Kumar both deserve special mentions for their roles as well.
Music and Other Departments?
As mentioned earlier, editing and CG of action sequences need work. But the cinematography and direction of the film is quite good. The soundtrack of the film is epic. The scriptwriter has done a very good job in creating an incredible story.
The Unexpected Comedy
Guru Somasundaram’s Acting
Minnal Murali Origin Story
CG Needs Work
Superhero Editing Could Have Been Better
Did I Enjoy It?
Will You Recommend It?
Yes. This film has a few flaws, but it is worth a shot.
Minnal Murali Review by Binged Bureau
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