Mersal (2017) starring Vijay and directed by Atlee is a mass entertainer way to celebrate this Deepavali with – and it does that well, nothing more. My son thoroughly enjoyed the film and the box office collections for Day 1 shows that the film is a commercial success. Kudos to the team.
The story is about why Vetri (Vijay) a magician, works to cleanse the corrupt medical system in the state and in the end kills the villain Dr.Daniel for a crime he committed 30 years ago. The first half-an-hour of the film, in which we see Vetri performing magic on stage and off stage was fast paced and interesting, good performance by Vijay – probably Atlee got inspired by the classic film on the genre The Prestige (2006), nevertheless, I liked it. The Paris Coffe-Shop fight sequence where Vijay, uses everything he has with him as a weapon and draws out a full spear from a ladies handbag was a feast for his fans. Similarly, was the opening fight in the village for the older Vijay character was good. I liked the two songs “Maacho” and “Aalaporaan Thamizhan” by A.R.Rahman. Enjoyed the comedian Vadivelu making a comeback in Vijay‘s film after many years, the spark in Vadivelu which was absent in his earlier film, does light up in this – a big welcome to him.
After Spyder, S.J.Surya stars as the villain Dr.Daniel in this film too, unfortunately in the former his character Sudalai had a strong definition going for it; in Mersal, it looks like Atlee felt no need to introduce Dr.Daniel’s past or present, other than showing he committing a bad crime for the older Vijay’s family. At 170 minutes, the film was longer than what I would’ve preferred – there were three heroines – Nithya Menen, Samantha Ruth Prabhu and Kajal Aggarwal, the Director has to give an introduction and a love duet for each of them.
For the wits of me, I couldn’t understand the reason for the hero to land in a Paris Airport sporting a Dhoti (I wear a Dhoti too often and love it) and once the authorities there question him, he gives them a sermon on superiority of Tamil language and their racist attitude for brown skin. In the last decade, the French have been welcoming people of other cultures, first accepting Sri Lankan refugees – see the film Dheepan 2015, then the country has been accepting thousands of refugees from Syria, Iraq and African nations. You don’t win the hearts of a country you visit by telling them you are a racist. Similarly, the hero, in Punjab goes singing the praises of Tamil and claims it to be the first language – doesn’t show well the language that immortalised hospitality thousands of years ago when its poet wrote “யாதும் ஊரே, யாவரும் கேளீர்”.
Last few days, there has been lot of debates, WhatsApp messages by Doctors calling to boycott the film – all this fuss are unwanted. Everyone has a right to say what they want. This is not the first time, corruption in medical practices is talked in a Tamil film. Remember Captain’s Ramana or many of Shankar’s films.
Once a film has been certified by Censors – a body I feel is unwanted in today’s day and age, but that’s a different topic – any call to ban or self-ban or edit are all silly. You don’t like a film, don’t watch it, don’t talk about it.
As someone who watched the film, my complain about the film was it could’ve been lot original and shorter. The Director (writer) could’ve done a bit more research on the cultural and the little science that is shown – may be I am wrong to expect those from a fiction film, I am rethinking my expectations.
Lastly, I am saddened as a society we are becoming less tolerant. We should be able to laugh at ourselves. Just because some film (I am not saying Mersal did this in any way) showed my caste or religion or language or state in poor light, the sky is not going to fall. If there is humour in that art, laugh & enjoy, otherwise forget it and keep moving.