Minnal Murali

Minnal Murali

Here’s a homegrown superhero attempt that uses the genre’s commonplace tropes confidently, because it very well knows that it has the backing of strong localisation. The village setting in itself is swimming against the idea of superheroes being synonymous to big-scale cinema. But this disposition makes way for solid rootedness to the setting. I rolled my eyes at a typical vehicle accident sequence, but the way the scene ends with a very Indian temperament, elevates the trope to great effect. Even the premise of the lightning-struck superpowers feels close to home.

Most of the film’s wins hinge on good writing. The parallel origin arcs of the superhero and the supervillain get equal footing as they should. The engagement comes more from the course of their overlapping journeys, than the theatrics of their superpowers. There’s a stretch in the screenplay that progresses like a whodunnit, and it’s an absolutely delightful streak of writing. The flashback being a lost memory of Jaison’s, and that being the device that helps him channel Minnal Murali from his past, is the only beat I’m not able to completely buy into.

If you’d ask me, the primary genre of the film is comedy. And the humour is not used to fill in gaps, (or for bathos like Marvel has been doing beyond its death), but is rather built into the heart of the film. It’s in the very atmosphere. A kid dressed as Gandhi at his school function cheers the hero on to physically smash an authority figure he dislikes? That’s the sort of riot you’re in for. This is a comedy film in its soul, really. Tovino is an easy casting win here, gracefully managing moments of erring and those of spirit.

While the superpowers themselves aren’t choreographed as innovatively in the action scenes, the smaller instances they are used at make for some memorable moments. By the time the film scales up in terms of production, we’re already at the climax. So that’s a good two hours of engaging superhero action, before the genre’s visual crackers are even lit up. I’d thus call this a triumph of sticking to basics. Nothing about it is superlative – if you’re expecting something wildly inventive, this may not be it, because the makers haven’t attempted much beyond what’s already been tried and tested. But this trust in their foundation (the writing) helps, and it translates into an entertaining film that is sure of itself in a likeable way.


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