Mersal: 10 thoughts we had while watching the first day, first show of Vijay's latest entertainer
I wouldn’t call myself a Vijay fan, and yet at 4 am on a Wednesday morning, I found myself seated in a theatre, waiting expectantly for his latest release — the Atlee-directed Mersal — to begin. Was it the hype, the pre-release buzz that had pulled me here? Was it the super-charged promotional campaign that made this film seem like an all-your-entertainment0needs-answered package that prompted me to make this early morning trip to the theatres? I didn’t quite know — what I did know was that I very badly wanted Mersal to move away from the clichés that infest Tamil/Telugu cinema, and offer something new. I wanted to be entertained, and I wanted Vijay to do something new on screen.
Having sat through the nearly three-hour-long film, I can tell you this: Mersal is an out-andout Vijay entertainer (and all that it implies). It is also an extremely engaging viewing experience.
The minute Vijay walks onto the screen — a hyped entry sequence that comes second only to those enjoyed by Rajinikanth, perhaps — you’re hooked. Slow motion shots, dialogues that play to Tamizh sentiments and lots of cheers and hoots from the crowd later, you’re pulled onto the Mersal roller coaster ride.
A brief summary here of the plot: Vijay plays three characters — Thalapathy, a much-loved village chief who is murdered along with his wife (Nithya Menen) by the villain (SJ Suryah); Thapathy’s sons, who are separated when their parents are killed (Vettri, who becomes a magician, and Maaran, who grows up to be a doctor). The sons reunite as adults, and seek justice for their slain parents.
The film has its flaws, but also several aspects that deserve appreciation. And while you’re sure to have read reviews of the film, here are 10 thoughts we had while watching Mersal:
- Every role of Vijay’s is structured to be a crowd pleaser, but in Mersal, the superstar is even more of a treat to watch. His turn as Vettri is particularly intriguing. And as Thalapthy, he touches quite the emotional chord with audiences.
- Vijay steals every frame with his triple role, but Vadivelu keeps us thoroughly entertained with his comic timing. It’s a delight to see the veteran comedian back on screen after a long gap.
- Mersal reminded us of the recent Junior NTR-starrer Jai Lava Kusa (especially with one superstar playing three roles) and the story of separated-then-reunited brothers, but Vijay’s film proves to be a tad better than NTR’s.
- Director Atlee deserves full credit for pulling off this story, with the triple roles for Vijay, he keeps the plot well-concealed even into the second half, so that you’re never quite sure of what’s going to happen next.
- What truly deserves our appreciation are the choreography and action sequences in Mersal. For a change, the action sequences aren’t monotonous, and Vijay’s magic tricks (as Vettri) add a nice dramatic twist. AR Rahman’s ‘Macho’ and ‘Azhapooran Tamizhan’ come alive on screen thanks to the subtle, yet fast-paced choreography.
- Okay, we’re just going to put this out there: Mersal proves to be far better than Ajith’s Vivegam [Cue gasps of shock]. Thala fans might not agree, but this is a verdict Ilayathalapathy fans have hailed. Mersal scores over Vivegam, right from the acting to the music, cinematography.
- You’ll find a mish-mash of various ingredients from several older films in Mersal, such as Kamal Haasan’s Apoorva Sahodarigal, and other twin dramas.
- SJ Suryah’s role as the bad cop has shades of Arjun Rampal’s act as the baddie in Om Shanti Om. Many of Suryah’s scenes will remind you of Rampal in the Farah Khan-directed film.
- Of course, whether the film stars Thala, Thailavaa or Ilayathalapathy, one thing never changes — the leading lady (in this case, three ladies) serve as props. Kajal Aggarwal and Samantha Ruth Prabhu play the love interests to the two brothers — Vettri and Dr Maaran. That’s about it. Nithya Menen gets a better deal and manages to make an impression in her role as Thalapathy’s strong, bold wife, who doesn’t shy away from fighting for the betterment of her people. You see the women in the songs, and they denote the different phases of the film, but that’s about it.
- The plot twists, while unavoidable, take away from the experience. While Mersal is still a step up from Bairavaa and Theri for Vijay, this is by no means KV Vijayendra Prasad’s best — especially after writing a magnum opus like Baahubali.