Tovino Thomas and Basil Joseph hit the punch as they manage to give the Indian audiences their own friendly neighbourhood superhero with Minnal Murali.
Who is not a fan of superhero movies? Everyone loves a good story that shows the hero falling and rising at the end of the movie to do good, but if he is given inhuman abilities that is like icing on the cake. There is a special kind of adrenaline that we get when watching someone deal with the villain and ultimately go on to save the world. While we have a list of superheroes saving the world, there are very few Indian superheroes. Keeping up with this movie genre that enjoys a craze among all age groups alike, Netflix released its first Malayalam superhero movie Minnal Murali.
Directed by Basil Joseph the film stars Tovino Thomas, Guru Somasundaram, Femina George, Shelly Nabu Kumar and Aju Verghese. The story takes us through the life of Jaison (Tovino), a tailor hailing from a small village Kurukkanmoola in Kerala. Jaison has his own dream of going to the United States and hopes to get married to his girlfriend Bincy (Sneha Babu) who happens to be the daughter of SI Saajan (Baiju). He finds out that her father has arranged for her marriage with someone with a more stable job than his. Heartbroken by the same and with the want to confront her he joins the Christmas carol group and goes to her house. But instead, he gets struck by lightning and ends up in a hospital only for him to learn that he now has superpowers. Like every other superhero, he gets his own nemesis in Shibu (Govind Somasundaram) who also happens to be struck by the same lighting bolt as him giving his superpowers too.
It is everything that you would expect from a Basil Joseph movie – a simple, touching, and funfilled story that has certain superhero elements to improve the storyline. There are no skyscrapers, massive blasts, cars turning over, or a science lab to develop a superhero costume. All it has is a bunch of everyday villagers and a man with his own adult problems accidentally receiving superhuman abilities. More than the idea of us having our own superhero, the movie is focused on emotions. If you are a mallu you would know that there is no better cape than a mundu (dhoti). And like every other Mallu star who has fought villains, kicked asses, and nailed the whole good over evil over the years, Tovino pulls the same but with extra help from his superpowers. Apart from all the superhero elements, the one thing that makes this movie a hit is the whole concept of ‘lesser the better.’ Despite it being a big-budget film in Malayalam, it is far less when compared to all the other superhero films made. It justifies how bigger may not always be better, what actually matters and works is how well one is able to deliver the story to its audiences. While we may go in to see Jaison discover his powers, we will be greeted with characters and their emotions. You know this works when you root for Shibu and understand his pain even though he is the antagonist that the hero has to defeat. Shibu having an equally strong and parallel origin story only adds to this. And most of the credits also belong to the actor Guru who played the character with sincerity. He was able to nail the cute, shy Shibu who used his powers to move a person from his way so he can have a glimpse of Usha (Shelly Kumar) and scared us with the vengeance-driven Shibu ready to destroy anything and everything that hurt him.
We have seen Basil work his magic before with movies like Kunjiramayanam and Godha. Both are set in the background of a small village keeping the nuances of their everyday life alive. This is one thing that makes Basil stand out among his peers in the film industry. He can deliver an impactful story while taking us through a joyful, lighthearted ride that fills us with the warmth of a good cup of tea. His adding smaller details to the movie to create Jaison’s own universe is another reason we know he excels in his part as a storyteller. Giving the town of Kurukkanmoola its own number plates, calling out actor Sudheesh with the classic Manichitratazhu reference, making the kid dressed up as Gandhi encourage Jaison to hit the policemen harder, Jaison wearing an ‘Abibas original’ t-shirt and Bincy playing flames is something that shouts Basil all over.
As a Mallu who grew up watching a lot of Malayalam movies and also a superhero fan, there was one thing that I really wanted, for this movie to not suck and for it to keep up with the expectation that every movie lover has regarding Malayalam movies. And might I say, I am pleased. In this world where Marvel and DC have found their way into the films bringing everyone’s childhood superheroes to life on the screen, what we didn’t need is another superhero movie that has a possibility to tank for not keeping up with their standards. But a director from the small film industry in India decided to make one of his own. If he plans to release more parts and make a franchise out of it, like it was revealed by Tovino in one of the interviews, this was a fairly well-done origin story that made for a strong foundation. Fact that it is only natural for fans to compare and find similarities to some of the most popular superhero movies, Basil has been able to add his own touch to this story trying to give fans our own homegrown superhero. The director has been able to score when we had movies in India that tried and failed. Special mention to Remo D’souza’s Flying Jatt.
Creating a superhero out of a town where no one is particularly aware of the concept and turning it into a low-budget hit that speaks to audiences across the language barrier, Basil triumphed yet again. Sameer Thahir’s cinematography paired with songs by Shaan Rahman and Sushin Shyam makes this movie better. The story worked so well, that its future sequels might be wholeheartedly welcomed by the viewers. So if you want to watch Tovino end up in a onesie doing the iconic superhero pose over the top of a building as he chooses to save the world, then you should definitely watch this movie.
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