Tovino Thomas and Guru Somasundaram feature in Basil Joseph’s Malayalam film, which is available on Netflix. Minnal Murali is here…
All hail Minnal Murali, our own superhero, saviour of the downtrodden, and all-around kind person. I’ve just completed seeing Basil Joseph’s enthralling tale, loaded with twists and turns and some amazing set-pieces. The Movie has Jasion and his worthy opponent Selvan, and we can’t stop smiling.
A superhero film that hyper-localizes the grandiose themes of Hollywood tent pole movies and draws astonishment from feats of strength and bravery was a given. Crusaders appear on the short walk between the low-rise residence and the grocery shop in Minnal Murali.
Basil Joseph’s humorous Malayalam-language film, which is now available on Netflix, has an improvised vibe that complements the genesis story of an unexpected saviour. Jaison (Tovino Thomas) is a tailor in a tiny village in the pre-cellphone period who is longing for his lost love Bincy (Sneha Babu) and eager to go. Shibu (Guru Somasundaram) is also nearby, and he has never given up hope of reconnecting with his childhood sweetheart, Usha (Arya Salim).
Arun Anirudhan and Justin Mathew’s screenplay cleverly solders the fortunes of Jaison and Shibu. Both men are hit by lightning on the same day (thus the title), obtain superhuman skills, and attempt to repair their broken hearts.
Despite being strained, the story of two superheroes for the price of a single ticket benefits from being sold at the appropriate scale. Minnal Murali authentically portrays Jaison’s geeky nephew Josemon’s wide-eyed and knee-high perspective (Vasisht). The stakes are minimal, the visual effects are low tech, and the superheroic deeds are reasonable. Before things come to a head for Jaison and Shibu, the performers are surrounded with light observational humour.
Jaison (Tovino Thomas), a self-obsessed 20-something man, is trying to figure out what to do with his life after his fiancée dumps him. On a clear night, the hamlet witnesses thunder and lightning strikes Jaison. Wait a minute, he’s not dead, but something has changed. The youngster realises his power and attempts to put it to good use. But he does not know that he isn’t the only one who has been struck by lightning. A villain (Selvan aka Guru) emerges, and Minnal Murali must now defend the hamlet from him.
The superhero culture is a phenomenon that everyone views differently depending on their perspective. Some see them as persons with better moral ideals and special abilities, while others see them as theme park attractions. However, with passaging time, it has evolved into a more in-depth examination of the catharsis that occurs within the heads of these beings endowed with superpowers. Setting an Indian superhero in a region so concerned with itself and utterly rural seemed to be an impossible proposition. But put your faith in Malayalam creators to pull off the impossible.
Minnal Murali, Netflix’s latest offering, is not attempting to compete with the world’s MCUs and DCEUs, nor is it attempting to show to the West that we, too, can do it. The film attempts to coexist in certain ways. Remember how Chloé Zhao was aware of Ikaris’s resemblance to Superman in Eternals and recognised it right there? Exactly like that. And it is here that the filmmakers strike gold and give the Tovino Thomas-starring film its unique spirit.
In a creative twist, Jaison isn’t the brightest bulb in the room and needs Josemon’s help in deciphering the superhero mythos. Tovino Thomas plays the local crusader with a simple charm that suits the film’s setting.
Shibu, who has been damaged by a series of catastrophes, is an equally ideal fit for Guru Somasundram. Aju Varghese as Jaison’s harsh brother-in-law, Baiju Santhosh as the flat-footed police station head, and Femina George as the fiery karate teacher ‘Bruce Lee’ Biji are among the notable supporting roles. The 159-minute film lays the groundwork for a sequel. Perhaps Biji, who doesn’t require a superhero to get about, will play a larger role in the Minnal Cinematic Universe as Jaison’s high-kicking sidekick.
Both Arun Anirudhan and Justin Mathew, the writers, appear to be comic book fans. Within the first ten minutes, you can see how they shaped Minnal Murali’s universe as if you were reading a comic book. This story begins, ‘Once upon a time, there was a lad.’ They know also that not much of the audience out here reads them. As a result, there are real-world aspects that bring the spectator closer to their imagined realm. On Doordarshan, people are waiting for Chitrahar, lads are wearing imitation Adidas t-shirts, and the bad guy has a compass box with his and his crush’s names etched on it, which is sweet.
So, now for the superhero part (because emotions are a department Malayalam has repeatedly excelled already). As previously said, it is nearly hard to mix a figure with abilities in the Indian landscape without people referring to him/her as a deity. To counteract this, the writers totally immerse their two crucial figures in their surroundings, leaving no room for anyone to adore either.
As they investigate their abilities, the writing becomes more in-depth. Jaison and Selvan are analogous to Superman and Zod. Born from the same thing, but selected polar different sides to work for, resulting in a war between the two, the outcome of which you must see in the film. That is when the morality come into play. Before Sam Raimi turned them into ‘genre-breaking’ celebrity vehicles, superhero movies were always about teaching something. Shaktiman instructed the youngsters not to lie since Superman was the most powerful man in the universe and he shone with discipline. You’ve got it.
Tovino Thomas is a surprising superhero. He isn’t attractive or magnetic. He’s just a regular fellow trying to get away from his humdrum existence, and he’s on the verge of being a perpetual loser. Until something occurs that makes him realise he is capable of far more than he believed he was: Jaison is grounded and genuine, which is why we cheer for him.