Polticians and the public have provided a load of free publicity to Mersal by joining in on the Mersal vs GST debate and politicizing a small issue unnecessarily. Make no mistake though, Mersal is a deeply political movie at its core. Right from the start we see political messages hidden in different aspects of the movie: the introduction scene where Vijay works out to the tunes of MGR’s Unnai Arindhaal, the defense of the Veshti and Tamil culture in an airport fiasco in France, and the leadership qualities of the father Vetrimaran – Atlee has not so subtly left us clues about the political ambitions of Thalapathy Vijay. Tamil politics and cinema have been deeply intertwined ever since the days of Kalaignar and MGR, so this new chapter in our history will be a fascinating period for fans of the actor and political observers alike.
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With only 3 movies under his belt, director Atlee already seems to have perfected the art of crafting the perfect mass entertainer and dishes out the exact portions of action, comedy, drama and sentiment with the right twists like a world class chef. The story of Mersal is a typical revenge drama centering around a son trying to avenge his father’s murder. However, Atlee’s presentation of the various segments with carefully thought out backstories that immediately connect with audiences makes for a very entertaining watch, despite a somewhat long run time. In movie where it is easy to get distracted by several important characters and subplots, Atlee still manages to drive the main issues home with his use of tragedy – such as the accident sequence of a young girl in Chennai and a miscarriage at a rural hospital in a flashback sequence later in the movie.
It is good to see Vadivelu back on screen and adding real value to the story while also giving the movie a dash of his wacky sense of humor. His chemistry and comedic timing with Vijay is impeccable, and one hopes this will be a proper comeback for the veteran comedian. Sathyaraj as the investigative officer on a murder case feels underutilized. SJ Surya is adequate as the suave and quietly plotting Dr.Arokkiaraj – but one cannot help but feel his portrayal of a vaillain is very forgettable in a movie where the heroes shine bright. The movie is well and truly carried entirely on the shoulders of the star – Thalapathy Vijay. The actor has put in tremendous effort in every department, be it in dance sequences, stunts or even tying his veshti with a jump. The man knows what his fans like and he delivers all that and more in Mersal. The sequences set in 1970’s Madurai with the father, Vetrimaran at the forefront are definitely the most memorable parts of the movie, delivering some of the best Mass moments in recent Tamil cinema history. Nithya Menon as Vetrimaran’s wife is very endearing and leaves an impact while Kajal Agarwal and Samantha are completely forgettable and have no real reason to be in the movie.
The movie is top notch in the technical aspects with camerawork and color being a major bonus delivering some stunning visuals when watched in the theatre (especially Aaalporan Tamizhan, a visual treat!). The magic sequences are a bit of a drag and stretch the realms of believability. Editing could have been a whole lot tighter, especially with the song placements and two unnecessary female leads taking up screen time for no reason. The movie has its flaws, but as a package it works fantastically well, especially with a charming Vijay at the lead.