Minnal Murali: A guide for Desi Superhero movie makers on a budget!!!

Yes!!! The day has come! I have waited long for a day, where a moderate-budget Indian movie takes Netflix by storm and garners a record number of watch-hours on the platform, toppling all the high budget foreign movies, to become a part of Netflix Top 10 countries other than India. The day has come when the whole world stands up and recognises the most discreet and perhaps the most underrated part of the Indian Film Industry, Mollywood!! India’s first “well-made” desi superhero film “Minnal Murali” is garnering attention around the globe. After listening to the buzz, I also decided to give it a watch and boy did it mesmerise me!!!

The story revolves around a middle class tailor Jaison (Tovino), a man from a remote village in Kerala with shallow pockets and American dreams. His girlfriend Bincy cheats on him and by agreeing to a marriage set by her father Sajan, a police inspector. Upset by this movie Jaison confronts Sajan at his home. In a parallel story, we get introduced to Shibu (Guru Somasundaram), a poor man with a big heart, filled with love for his childhood crush Usha. When upset, Shibu would take a small boat down the river after dark, just to catch a glimpse of Usha from far. Parallelly, we are also informed that a rare planetary alignment would occur very soon and the consequences of the same are unknown to mankind. All the three stories merge when Jaison and Shibu are stuck by lightning, which occurs during the rare planetary alignment. Lucky to have survived a thunder strike, both Jaison and Shibu realise that they have gained some extraordinary powers post the incident. How Jaison went on to become Minnal Murali? What did Shibu do with his of powers? How did fate treat Shibu and Jaison? What was the role of Bruce Lee Biji in midst of all this? Let the movie reveal it to you.

What is the most essential ingredient for a superhero movie? Extravagant budget? Star cast? Mind-boggling CGI? Chest thumping BGM? No sir! Strong writing is what I feel, would take the front seat and drive a superhero movie towards success or failure. Minnal Murali is exactly about that. Like the majority of recent Malayalam films, writing takes the wheel and steers this movie towards a remarkable success. I quite like the way the writers have subtly hinted that having superpowers doesn’t necessarily make you hero or a villain, it is about what you do with them. Both the protagonist and the antagonist have similar skillset (while Shibu has one more superpower than Jaison), but the way they employ them makes all the difference. While the hero role is well designed with ample loads for humor and right amounts of emotion, the character arc of the antagonist is what took me by surprise. The amount of writing that went into the detailing of the antagonist makes you feel for him at moments. At a crucial juncture in the film, I was telling myself, “No! please don’t do that! This is what turns a man in to beast!!!” After Black Panther, for once I could sympathise with the antagonist in a superhero movie. Take a bow, writers! You have done a great job with this film.

Coming to performances, Tovino Thomas breezes through the character of Jaison/Minnal Murali. He is known for his experiments in Mollywood, and this would be his best experiment till date. Though he is the hero according to the story, it is Guru Somasundaram as Shibu, who really carries the movie on his shoulders. He reminds us of that nice simple neighbourhood guy, who is being treated harshly by life and society. His expressions and histrionics are top-notch. Simply put, he is the perfect example of a skilled actor in an excellently written character. Am sure that you will also feel his pain when you are watching the movie. All other characters have performed well within their limited screen presence. Special mention to the boy who played Jaison’s nephew role.

Coming to the technical department, apart from top-class writing, excellent cinematography and action choreography breathe life into the movie. Songs are well composed and placed. BGM is just right enough for a superhero movie. The use of brass instruments did give it some Hollywood feel. The editing department has done a decent job and the art department deserves a special mention for an authentic re-creation of a Rural Kerala Village from the 90s. Director Basil Joseph has exactly shown how to create a superhero movie in an Indian setting. All the aspiring Superhero movie makers! Here is a textbook for you to follow and yeah! You can expect a sequel too. I am so excited to see Fahad Fassil as the next antagonist!!! Are you listening Fahad?

“Superpower is not about bending reality or hurling huge boulders without effort. The real superpower is your ability to work for the societal benefit even after suffering personal losses. Work for your benefit and you might still end up as a villain, work for society and one day you will become a hero!”

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