Minnal Murali

What is the movie about? :: The movie begins with a drama, Pallikkunnile Punyalan, which takes place as part of a church festival, and the firecracker warehouse catches fire, leading to the death of many people in the village. Then we get to the happenings of the same riverside village at the present. Jaison (Tovino Thomas) is a tailor who is now running his father’s shop, and hopes to go to the United States at some point. He is in love with Bincy (Sneha Babu), but her father who is a police officer makes sure that he doesn’t meet her again. Bincy is also no longer interested in him, as her marriage is now fixed with a richer man, Aneesh (Jude Anthany Joseph). On an eventful day, two bolts of lightning strikes both Jaison and the waiter at the local tea shop Shibu (Guru Somasundaram). But both of them come out of the lightning strike without much of problems – small side-effects like cough and cold are there though, and even the doctor feels that they seem to be okay for some strange reason. Soon, the two will find out that the side-effects are not really what they though they would be. There is much more to what meets the eye with the recent incident, and it would take some time to figure things out.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Soon, the two people who were struck by lightning begin to discover their superpowers. While Shibu discovers them all by himself, Jaison is helped by his nephew Josemon (Vasisht Umesh), who is a big fan of the superhero comics. When his father Varkey (P Balachandran) is attacked by a police officer, Jaison decides to take the matters into his own hands and attack the police at a school festival. At the same time, Shibu robs a bank in the village, and the name which Jaison wrote on the wall, Minnal Murali is blamed for both the incidents. While both men were hit by lightning, their powers seem to vary though. While Shibu seems to control objects around him, Jaison seems to focus on his strength and speed, and former seems to have an upper hand when they meet on the road. Jaison’s newfound ally is Bijimol (Femina George) who runs a travel agency and martial arts coaching class, but they are not able to figure out the other person who is behind the crimes which are happening around. But for Shibu, it is not that difficult to find the other person with superpowers.

The defence of Minnal Murali :: This is one movie which looks really good, and world in which the whole metahuman battle is set, is a place which never ceases to have further scope. It is to be noted that the smaller parts of the movie are as interesting as the grand things which is seen and appreciated as usual part of a superhero film. The film also maintains a Shazam-like funny side, and even more at times, even though the comic side that we see here is stronger in comparison. It also boasts of some social commentary to go with it, and the message about loneliness and loss only gets stronger by the end. The emotional side is also strong enough to keep it going. This film happens in a place which is down to earth and real, and how the director manages that in between all of these so well is to be appreciated too. The final showdown is among the best that you can get, with a setting which makes you so much interested in it. There is also that fun fight before the interval, which is a joy to watch, living up to a festival mood. Then we also relate to the superhero so well, and that is always supposed to be the perfect first thing. There is no dumb superstar nonsense like hero and villain flying around with slow motion punches and kicks, for this one knows how to use its superhero strengths and not overdo the same.

Positives and negatives :: There was always a lot of expectations about this particular movie in comparison with the others. If you have seen the promos with The Great Khali and Yuvraj Singh, as well as the special Muthoot Ad, you know exactly how it was going so strong long before the release – there were also comic strips on the front page of newspapers, and today, the whole front page of some newspapers are dedicated to the film. The hype was surely high, and one can be glad that it has delivered so well – some usual superhero repetitions can still be seen, as we look at this one. The first few minutes of the film do go slowly though, and it could have been a shorter movie avoiding them, or of the same length with more action added to it. The possibility for a sequel is left behind in the end, and even though one wonders what can happen in a village like this, the chances are already shown. Even though the usual Avengers and Justice League’s superhero comparison would be there, I would compare this one more to an Indonesian movie, Gundala – there was lightning striking and a hero rising – but the focus was on the city in that case, and the situation was also different in another world which required separate treatment.

The performers of the soul :: After Kaanekkaane, Tovino Thomas has come up with another fantastic performance, but this time, of another kind, leaving nothing common in between – that one was a work of grand emotions, and this one, something of grandeur on the screen. His two films of 2020, Forensic and Kilometers and Kilometers were also not in any way similar to each other, as one crime thriller and a comedy drama. He has seen a lot of variety through the years, and we see how well he fit into the grand costume of a superhero too. Femina George adds to the heroines as another character to remember in her first work of grandeur. She plays the strong female lead with martial arts expertise, and will have more to do in the final moments of the film too. She is surely a talent for the future in Malayalam movie industry. Guru Somasundaram plays the villain with the strength that we expect from such a character, and even better than most of the superhero movies struggling with villain problems. He also has some emotional moments working so well for him. The grand battle between the two sides is what we keep waiting for, at all times – he excels during those final moments where the battle goes grand, and with a backstory of anger and anguish, is an excellently crafted antagonist with situations.

Further performers of the soul :: Vasisht Umesh has been the star of the promos, and serves as a kind of superhero trainer, as he brings a lot of light moments in the movie. He brings the most humour around here, and there are some fine cute moments with him around. Aju Varghese adds to the humour as usual, and he doesn’t deviate much from what he has been doing for long. Along with him, Rajesh Madhavan and Baiju Santhosh also play police roles of interest. Jude Anthany Joseph and Sneha Babu adds some humour in the beginning stages, but are not used that much – same is the case of Bijukuttan and Mammukoya who have become usual parts of Basil Joseph movies. Shelly Kishore also gets a role of substance after some time. Harisree Ashokan’s role here is rather serious, and we will remember this one too. The other name that we note here is of Azees Nedumangad from Star Magic fame – we see him in a small role here too. P Balachandran plays a father character here, with an emotional side. Almost all of these people contribute to the humour so well – the same works very nicely.

How it finishes :: Minnal Murali, even though is in possession of enough special effects for support, is not too dependent on the same like some of the other superhero stuff which has released in India. Instead, we have focus on the content, and that is where the movie scores heavily. We remember that the focus was all on Krrish as the sample superhero movie after Shaktimaan did the same thing a long time ago. But Krrish was basically taken out of Hollywood, and there is nothing new about it other than having so many things copied from English movies. But Minnal Murali takes it to a more natural world instead, and with a fine origin tale, has the flavour of Kerala in it – the absence of overrated nonsensical romance and related songs come as bonus too. The world is also a small one, and like the one we have witnessed before in Basil Joseph’s previous movie, Kunjiramayanam – it helps a lot to keep the hero close to our heart, as there is no need for the huge overdose of saving the world against all odds, as he saves the village and that is indeed enough. With a fine superhero created in a perfect environment, you are now ready for a franchise. You can now be sure that you are going to love it. MERRY CHRISTMAS! 🙂

Release date: 24th December 2021
Running time: 160 minutes
Directed by: Basil Joseph
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Femina George, Vasisht Umesh, Guru Somasundaram, Jude Anthany Joseph, Sneha Babu, Aju Varghese, Shelly Kishore, P Balachandran, Bijukuttan, Harisree Asokan, Baij Santhosh, Basil Joseph, Roji P Kurian, Syam Cargoz, Mammukoya, Gibin Gopinath, Devi Chandana

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Jai Bhim

What is Jai Bhim about? :: The movie begins with a group of people who are supposed to be from some lower castes or tribes having some police cases forced on them without any particular reason other than their community of birth. In the end, almost all the cases fall on them, as police closes the pending cases by putting them on these people. Raja Kannu (K Manikandan) catches snakes and rats in the village, and lives in a tribal area of a remote village with her wife Senggeni (Lijomol Jose). The tribe is known for their useful job, which helps the rich people of the area who boasts of their higher caste status, and won’t care about these people. But Raja Kannu is also arrested by police in the name of a robbery which happened in the house of the village head, as there is a lot of force on the cops due to the same. The police says that her husband had escaped with three other tribals on a fateful night. They are helped by as Maithra (Rajisha Vijayan) who has been working as a teacher among the tribals, and was trying to provide them with enough education and some identity to go with it.

So, what happens next in this tale? :: Advocate Chandru (Suriya) leads cases for the downtrodden people, and has managed to help many people before. But in this particular case, police has already prepared everything, and with enough proof being ariticially created, this eems to be very difficult for Chandru. SP Ashok Varadhan (Sibi Thomas) wants the case to be solved at any cost, and the local police officers go further to manipulate everything from the first point. Chandru visits the whole area with Maithra, and tries to find some clues. But will he be enough for this particular case, as many more false witnesses are being added, and it becomes a thing of prestige for the government? Can truth go above the false witnesses in an age of hopelessness and lies? The question still remains if the three are even alive and Chandru wants IG Perumalsamy (Prakash Raj) to investigate the office, and Advocate Ram Mohan (Rao Ramesh), the most prominent and respected lawyer will stand against Chandru for the government and the police.

The defence of Jai Bhim :: It is up to Suriya and Lijomol Jose to keep the film strong at the top, and there is no point where you feel that they are not fully immersed in these characters which they portray. Seeing the latter in such a role was a surprise, and one would wish her back in many more Malayalam movies. The film is a valiant take on ferocious discrimination and injustice which has been forced on people just for their birth in a particular community. In doing that, the film remains strong at all times. In staying with the subaltern against the strong and the influential, it makes some very strong points. The same is portrayed without using the useless mass fight scenes, which would have been there if this film was taken a few years ago, but the movie chooses not to satisfy the brainless mass. There are many emotional moments in the film, and the agony that the weak goes through is portrayed realistically rather than with the unnecessary extras. The intensity that the film carries is a lot too, and the strength only increases as the film progresses.

Positives and negatives :: The film does take some time to go through its beginning stages, and it does have the predictable stuff at work too. From the moment it starts, we are somewhat sure about what would happen even without knowing the history of the real-life tale, and we feel that the film could have been a little shorter. Some dialogues could have been avoided, but a few others could have had more detail, like when talking about the Rajan case which happened long ago in Kerala. Rajisha Vijayan could have also had more to be done, even with some good time being spent on the screen. It is always normal to expect more from this kind of a film, because we know the kind of topic it deals with. There is always something to take home in this kind of movies though, and this one, even though dealing with a topic which people might be aware of, leaves us with the reminder that injustice still exists, and there is the need for someone to raise the voice at the right time for the right people, and not for some celebrities who have their own ways of saving themselves, having their own influence and power.

Performers of the soul :: Suriya has one strong performance added here, and it seems that he has become the character like a fine reflection of a determined, enthusiastic, righteous lawyer. The focus that is required in the character is shown without the extreme heroism that would have taken over in some other movie, but not in this case. There is no violence related to the man either, as there is no beating up the bad guys, and there are no stylish dialogues, which makes the character blend in right into the film’s mood. It does feel that he is really into the character so well, and becomes a mirror of the ideology inside him. This is also the first Suriya film that I have reviewed here, and I am glad that this movie could be chosen for the same. Lijomol Jose, whom we know for the lovely supporting role in Maheshinte Prathikaaram and the lead role in Kattappanayile Rithwik Roshan, has her biggest role here, and she has performed exceptionally, making her the leading actress, the woman who was wronged, and seeking justice. I hope that she would continue in the film industry after marriage too.

Further performers of the soul :: K Manikandan in the husband’s role has death coming to his character after a fine performance. Prakash Raj plays a solid police officer with his own ideology, which we love, and he is the one cop whom you would love to have in your universe of reality. Rajisha Vijayan, who won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress for her debut film, Anuraga Karikkin Vellam, also has her moments, being a strong part of this. We know what she has done in Kho Kho, June and Finals, and she could suit at any place with grace. She has a superior status among this generation of actresses in Malayalam film industry, and so when she is there, you wish to check out the movie. The villains are all good too – when you look at them, they are not the same kind of antagonists, for the work at different levels. They are all united by a few things, but you see the divergence that runs through them, with them acting different even when doing the same job. There are lots of supporting cast members who also do some jobs worth appreciation, staying strong in the background throughout the film.

How it finishes :: There have been many courtroom dramas, and Pink might be the most famous among them – this one nicely adds to the list of those films. Unlike most of such movies which have dealt with similar topics including bringing justice to the subaltern, this one has its complete focus on such divisions and atrocities committed in the same name. The film is also supposed to be based on a petition which was filed in 1995, and the characters are also known to be based on real-life people with real-life incidents forming the background of the film. There is always the feel for some need for films on discrimination, and this one makes a welcome addition, as it makes some strong points about the same. It is also available with audio in Hindi, and therefore, it should be accessible to a much bigger audience on Amazon Prime Video. Theatres have opened, but you still have moves like this one on OTT, and you know you have to trust the OTT.

Release date: 2nd November 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 164 minutes
Directed by: TJ Gnanavel
Starring: Suriya, Lijimol Jose, Rajisha Vijayan, Prakash Raj, Rao Ramesh, Guru Somasundaram

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.