“When a lightning strikes a person, thousand joules of energy enters the human body. An average human body cannot contain that much energy. Thats why humans die when lightning strikes them”
“Teacher – What happens if they dont die?”
As Josemon , Jaison’s nephew ( enacted by a child actor who is one of the best things in the film) listens to the teacher’s class and the question from his classmate, there is a smile that appears slowly on his face. The BGM changes gears as the scene shifts to the hospital next. Jaison(Tovino Thomas) kicks a bottle that was about to fall and it jumps back to its position. Both the guy standing at the counter and Jaison himself are amused by this quick reflex action.
Minnal Murali works best during its first half which has ample such scenes that are built up in a slow and exciting manner and then ends with a great punch. Arun and Justin write a very engaging first half where enough time is taken in establishing the birth of a superhero. Basil Joseph then knows the knack of giving viewers goosebumps and making the most of a well written scene in a way very few commercial Malayalam film makers have nailed in this generation. The scenes where Jaison pushes his brother in law into the well or when he wins all the prizes in the carnival are all examples of how a film-maker can scale up good writing into scenes with immense repeat value.
Jaison’s backstory is neatly developed. How he decides to take out his super powers only when he is pushed to a corner and when it is really needed is clever writing. The entire chartbuster song – “Thee Minnal ” towards the end of the first half is both placed and executed brilliantly by Basil Joseph . It is extremely satisfying to the viewer whose wait through the first half to see Jaison’s first stint as a superhero is well rewarded. Watch out for how Basil doesn’t miss a chance to injest humour even in the middle of such an elevation scene when Sudheesh is brought as a guest and the kids call him “Kindi etta”.
Tovino is entirely convincing as the title character -Minnal Murali , to the extent that you cannot even imagine another hero in Malayalam today who could do this role so effectlively. The “Thee Minnal ” and the climax stunt sequence are proofs that Tovino is ahead than most of his contemporaries when it comes to action scenes. This may be one skill that could boost his career further in coming years if he chooses movies in this genre well. The actor is in fine form even in the light scenes or emotional scenes. His scenes with his sister and nephew are among the most enjoyable segments in the film.
I haven’t seen an instance in recent times where a movie’s antagonist is its biggest strength and yet a slight drawback too. Guru Somasundaram is terrific- watch out for a superb piece of acting when Shibu confesses his love for Usha and tells how he have been longing for her for 28 years. It helps that he dubbed in his own voice which gives the character more authenticity. But the writing also sways a little further into a risky area when it gives more depth to the antagonist and gives him a more solid story than what was needed. Add to this Guru’s earnest performance, at times you end up empathizing more with the villain than the hero which is one drawback that may stay with you as the movie ends.
Sushin Shyam does a brilliant job with Thee Minnal Song which suits the mood of the scene well. But surprisingly his work falls flat in a lot of scenes in the second half. Which is one of the reasons why the second half doesnt excite you as much as the first did. Particularly through the film’s last 30 minutes when Basil setups the elevation scenes and Jaison launches himself, you wish there was a rousing BGM to accompany . But sadly that is not the case. The VFX on the other hand might be the best Malayalam Cinema has ever seen. Not a single flaw in this department with the work matching very high standards for the budget I hear the movie is made of. Sameer Thahir’s camera work keeps up with VFX to make sure Minnal Murali is a visually stunning experience. The chase sequence and the fight between the lead characters in the bus is very well shot.
Despite its minor flaws, Minnal Murali is a winner all the way. It ends in a place where you really want more of this premise and you wish to see a sequel out of it sooner . Basil Joseph had done the hard work to get Minnal Murali into the hearts of the viewer. He has found an able ally in Tovino Thomas who has shown he is more than capable of carrying this superhero on his shoulders with the charm and the stunt skills the character needs. Now we just need to see Minnal Murali kick more things and more bad guys around !