Cast: Vijay, SJ Suryah, Samantha, Kajal Aggarwal, Nithya Menen, Vadivelu, Sathyaraj, Sathyan, Kovai Sarala & others
Music: AR Rahman
Cinematography: GK Vishnu
Stunts: Anal Arasu
Art Direction: Muthuraj
Story: Atlee & Vijayendra Prasad
Screenplay: Atlee, Vijayendra Prasad & Ramana Girivasan
Produced by: Murali Ramasamy & Hema Rukmani
Banner: Thenendal Studios Limited (TSL 100)
Release Date: 18-10-2017
Run Time: 02:50:00
Mersal, undoubtedly, is a majorly satisfying mass masala outing featuring a leading star in a long time. Although it’s evident that the storyline has been inspired from the popular Kamal Haasan-starrer Apoorva Sagotharargal, Atlee has genuinely succeeded with his presentation and commercial packaging to adapt the theme to contemporary taste and audiences.
Atlee has perfectly encased the film with appealing class and mass elements that put a smile on the face of audiences. The lovely mishmash of characters including the likes of SJ Suryah (who’s not so impressive but adequate), Sathyaraj, Vadivelu (who brings the roof down at regular intervals in the first half with his inimitable dialogue delivery and body language), Kovai Sarala and Yogi Babu (who briefly provides comic relief), is another highlight of the film.
Vijay has seamlessly performed each part with my favourite being the ‘Thalapathy’ role from the Madurai-set flashback portion, where Nithya Menen equally steals the show. While Vijay’s cute antics as Thalapathy are enjoyable, he impresses with the eye-popping histrionics through his magician character. And, he serenely delivers inspiring lines in a subtly etched doctor role. Vijay has also smartly used the platform to convey relevant, much-needed messages to his fans in a casual, friendly tone.
The introduction scene in ‘Mersal’ is, perhaps, one of the best-staged shots for Vijay. And the fact that it’s presented without any dialogue or a lead-up situation to an opening song or a hurried fight sequence makes it merrier. Atlee’s decision to bring writer Vijayendra Prasad on board has paid off. One can see the writer’s imprint on a quite a few occasions, especially in the emotional scenes involving Kaali Venkat and Nithya Menen in the flashback. The writing in these scenes makes us invest in the characters and empathize with their feelings. Atlee and Vijayendra Prasad have also managed to tease audiences with their narrative pattern until things become straightforward during the interval sequence.
The grandeur is visible in each frame of debutant DOP Vishnu, especially in the songs. Be it the ‘Macho’ shot in exotic locations in Europe or the ‘Mersal Arasan’ filmed in Chennai or the CG-laden ‘Neethane,’ the richness of tone is crystal clear. At the same breath, ‘Neethane’ and ‘Macho’ impair the momentum of the film and blatantly come across as commercial must-haves to appease the two top-billed lead heroines. The needless addition of these two songs could have been easily used to reduce the lengthy duration, which is a worry in the second half.
AR Rahman’s background score in Mersal should be an important learning for other composers who overwhelm audiences with ear-splattering sounds in a commercial film. He has churned out a great scoring effort with the right use of silence at crucial emotional scenes and pleasing tunes for the stunt sequences.
Toting up, ‘Mersal’ is surely a winner and a proper festival outing for family audiences, apart from ardent Thalapathy fans. Atlee has got the emotional connection and the social message right with an accessible story-telling.