Minnal Murali Review: Tovino Thomas’ Superhero Movie Is Super Mediocre

Deepak Gupta
Deepak Gupta January 22, 2022
Updated 2022/01/22 at 3:22 AM

Minnal Murali – streamed Friday on Netflix – is a rare superhero effort from India. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has sunk deep into local consciousness, from Avengers: Endgame becoming one of India’s highest-grossing films to most titles offering voice acting in four or five Indian languages, the country’s many film industries have more or less ignored it. the increasing domination of costumed vigilantes in today’s pop culture environment. Put aside marginal effort and false advertisement, Minnal Murali marks the first superhero venture for the Malayalam film industry. It’s (surprisingly) a first for Netflix in India too, even as the streamer literally grabs any superhero property internationally. This shows the scarcity of ideas.

Unfortunately, Minnal Murali tries to pack too much and fails to do most of it justice. The Netflix movie — directed by Basil Joseph (Godha) and written by Arun Anirudhan (Padayottam) and newcomer Justin Mathew — is designed as a superhero (and supervillain) origin story on the surface. But along the way, Minnal Murali he crams into subplots about half a dozen other characters, who offer muted commentary on xenophobia, castaism, and religious conflict. Most of this nonsense drags on for what seems like an eternity. At 158 ​​minutes, Minnal Murali it’s long by a mile.

More importantly, they have little substance to offer. The two and a half hours Minnal Murali thankfully, it’s not just about pushing the plot forward – but its character-driven scenes are so lackluster that I found myself wishing for more story. Most of his flashbacks are filled with melodrama and people crying over their sad pasts, which gets unbearable very quickly. In the present, Minnal Murali is very talkative. Don’t trust your audience. A character will summarize a scene that has just taken place. A song or narration (through a flashback) will dictate a character’s feelings or mindset. And when unable to write scenes, Minnal Murali will end up spinning for a montage.

When you let go and run away from the drama, Minnal Murali comparatively better rates. For the most part, the Netflix movie is all forced silly and terrible sad jokes (“Spider-Man got his powers from a spider bite. Batman got his powers from a cricket bat?”).

Everything you need to know about Minnal Murali

But sometimes it can be genuinely fun. In a musical sequence, children happily react to Minnal Murali by beating up police officers (while a child enjoys snatching coconuts from each police officer’s hands). The camera – photographed by Sameera Thahir (Bangalore Days) – reflects the joy and energy in what looks like a comic book movie moment. The over-the-top tone works at another time too, where the lighting gets totally dramatic and pushes Minnal Murali in fantastic territory. And there are some heartfelt and impressive scenes that really work, even if you’ve seen variations of them hundreds of times in other superhero movies.

Set in the 1990s in the small Kerala village of Kurukkanmoola, Minnal Murali it is primarily the journey of two strangers in the community. The protagonist is Jaison (Tovino Thomas, from Mayaanadhi), a tailor by family profession and a loser by choice. Although he has no knowledge of the outside world, Jaison decided to migrate to America as he cannot foresee a promising future where he has spent his entire life. Also, his college love interest Bincy (Sneha Babu of Ganagandharvan) has estranged from him and gotten engaged – on the advice of his police officer brother Saajan (Baiju Santhosh of Pidikittapulli) who has an ax to grind with Jaison and walks around like if he owned the village. He is the village sheriff.

On the other hand, we have the tea shop helping Shibu (2016’s Joker’s Guru Somasundaram) as the antagonist. Ignored and mistreated by everyone in the village, Shibu finds solace in pursuing her lifelong crush Usha (Shelly Kishore), who has recently left her elopement husband. She never noticed Shibu during her school days and she still hasn’t. But while Jaison harbors dreams of a better future, such a life is beyond Shibu’s reach. Still, they have things in common – in their status as outsiders and how they both crave a woman who doesn’t want them or know they exist. So when both are struck by lightning on the same night, it seems Minnal Murali is saying it was your destiny. It’s poetic, so to speak.

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Baiju Santhosh as Saajan (right) inside Minnal Murali
photo credit: Netflix

And shockingly, none of them die. Instead, they are given a variety of superpowers. This appears to be a direct message, although it is never convincingly portrayed by Minnal Murali. (It doesn’t help that certain scenes and reveals aren’t in the order they’re supposed to be.)

Yes, it’s a superhero movie – but the fact that lightning doesn’t kill Jaison or Shibu suggests divine intervention. Clearly, a higher power intended to give these two mediocre men a second chance at life. How to improve and do better, folks. (Maybe it’s not weird, for example.) And while the path they start on isn’t much different, circumstances and their choices separate them. They are essentially two sides of the same coin. As Jaison realizes he has more to give (with the help of his superhero-loving nephew), Shibu is consumed by his desire for Usha (he thinks he loves her, but all he really wants is for Usha to be his) .

Minnal Murali it would have been better to channel it more in that direction – but it has all sorts of poorly done subplots that add little, kill the narrative momentum and never make you invest in them.

Saajan is among them, with the character bent on rubbing Jaison’s nose in the dirt before a partial redemption at the end. Saajan’s deputy and Jaison’s brother-in-law, Pothan (Adi Kapyare Kootamani’s Aju Varghese) is abusive to his wife and Jaison’s lords. Usha returns to her overbearing brother Daasan (Harisree Asokan of Ilayaraja) who decides what is best for her. And then there’s martial arts instructor “Bruce Lee” Biji (newcomer Femina George) whose boyfriend gave up on her because she hurt his fragile male ego once.

All these supporting characters – Biji is apt to be a sidekick, but that’s for a possible sequel – are given considerable time. Minnal Murali, but they are never really developed. Worse still, the forced silliness of the Netflix movie and the line delivery is irritating. Just speak like adults and not actors who know they are in a comedy movie.

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Femina George as Biji in Minnal Murali
Photo credit: Harikrishnan P/Netflix

In the hands of a more astute director and with a leaner script that trimmed the fat, Minnal Murali could actually be a decent superhero movie as it had the building blocks. Adrift and clueless, Jason the hero finds purpose in life after gaining superpowers. But the Netflix movie takes a long time to get there, and the path isn’t rewarding in itself. Shibu the villain could easily have been a guy who is just trying to do the right thing: support a woman who is suffering. But the way he’s characterized and the way Usha’s ambivalence towards him is portrayed, that case is never made. If we don’t feel for Shibu, he’s not an anti-hero in our eyes.

Rather than, Minnal Murali is overly ambitious and sometimes not very confident in how he spoon-feeds. Still, it’s promising as India could definitely have some local superheroes. (THE Thor and Spider man That said, while Indians are going crazy over American superheroes – Spider-Man: No Way Home has made a tremendous start at the box office – they’ve previously shown little interest in domestic fare. Vikramaditya Motwane’s 2018 effort, Bhavesh Joshi Superhero, failed commercially (and nearly ended the career of its star Harsh Varrdhan Kapoor). Also, Netflix India has never made a sequel to any of their movies. It will take something completely unexpected for a Minnal Murali 2 to happen.

Minnal Murali will be released Friday, December 24 at 1:30 pm IST on Netflix worldwide. In India, Minnal Murali is available in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Hindi and English.

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