Minnal Murali (2021) is a Malayalam superhero film directed by Basil Joseph and released on Netflix. I expected it to be an action-packed, daredevil style film, but it turned out to be an emotional drama of love and the loss experienced by two dissimilar people in a town who accidentally acquire superpowers. Tovino Thomas (Kilometers and Kilometers 2020) is the hero, Minnal Murali, but it is the protagonist Guru Somasundaram of Joker (2016) fame who dazzles the audience in every frame with his outstanding acting. I found the screenplay to be fluffy & muddled, yet as this film is a welcome attempt for Indian cinema it gets a Ripe rating on my mangoidiots scale.
The film is set in the 1980s in a remote town in Kerala. Typical of the Malayalam movies, the director takes his time to ease us into the community, we understand the local marketplace and the social dynamics. We see Jaison, the local tailor’s son getting heartbroken when his lover, the daughter of the local inspector decides to marry someone else – on the other hand, Shibu, a tea master in the town’s eatery and the local loony, is thrilled as he hears the news of his childhood love returning to the town. One day both of them acquire extraordinary powers after being struck by lightning during a triangular planetary alignment. Jaison uses his powers to settle petty scores and win toys in the local fair, while Shibu uses it to eliminate anyone standing on the way to his sweetheart. What happens when these two meet is the climax.
Unlike the superheroes, we have seen who are smart and focused on their mission, Minnal Murali aka Jaison remains a happy-go-lucky even after getting his powers. He is able to poke fun at himself and that makes him relatable to the audience. But, Shibu with his powerful backstory which gets enhanced by Guru Somasundaram bringing to life the emotions of the character on screen, that I was empathising and rooting for him, the protagonist to succeed, which undermined the good guy’s role. At 2:30 hours, the film was way longer than it should be, some of the subplots could’ve been avoided, making Minnal Murali a bolt of unstoppable lightning.