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Mersal Movie Review: Jai, Vijay!

Movie: Mersal(Tamil)

Starring: Vijay,Vijay & Vijay

Directed by: Atlee

Rating:***(3 stars)

Vijay fans  must be very happy.Very happy. There are three Vijays  in his  new film, all shaped contoured and moulded into  red-hot come-see-about-me avatars.So 3 stars for  the eminently enjoyable new Vijay starrer, 1 each for  the  3 roles that the superstar  embraces  like lovers who won’t be parted  till kingdom come.

Or apocalypse dodged.

Indeed Vijay’s self-love  is celebrated by the rest of the besotted smitten cast who in true Tamil-Telugu tradition of hero-worship keep anointing eulogizing, glorifying and iconizing  the super-hero to  a point where no  criticism is permissible or  even plausible.

While the entire vast cast that includes three lovely leading ladies(all three so serene and surrounding in a haze  of idolatry numbness),can’t stop singing Vijay’s praise  he himself seems  to be a fan  of  the legendary M G Ramachandran. How do I know? He has  MGR’s pictures on the wall and he even visits a theatre showing an  MGR film.

Jayalalithaji—God bless her  departed soul—would have surely approved  of this,Vijay’s most fiercely  political statement  to date.

A simmering discontent  runs through Mersal  cutting through the  action-driven entertainment that Vijay’s devotees expect,and get . A  piercing scream of protest punctuated by tender bouts of songs and poetry when A R Rahman takes over for a bit…Plus  a surprisingly sermon-free diatribe  on  medical negligence in  our country last seen  in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Anand and  Bemisal…Director Atlee fashions  a furious fusion of headlines and fantasy accentuating  Vijay’s  star power with an acumen and alacrity that the Rajinikanth starrer  Kabali  achieved lately.

Indeed Rajiniknath and now  Vijay are the two inheritors  of  the Tamil political cinema that MGR patented  in  his heydays.  In Mersal Vijay takes on healthcare with a blood-thirsty vengeance .There are aggressive contemptuous references to the Establishment’s failure to provide medical facilities  for the poor and needy .

And we have Vijay wagging his disapproving finger at the Prime Minister with the words—and I translate poorly—“In Singapore the ill get free treatment although they charge 7 percent GST whereas in India they charge 29 percent GST and still don’t provide free healthcare.”

I dare any Bollywood superstar, say Akshay Kumar whose heart apparently bleeds for the poor and the underprivileged , to be so openly  critical  of  governmental policies.It takes guts for a matinee idol to talk politics.

Not that Mersal is submerged  in  its own political virtuousness. Not at all!  It is remarkable how rapidly the  narrative moves through the lacquered lives  of threeVijays, their loves and lies,grunts and sighs are all recorded with a reverberant triumph culminating in a feverish finish that would leave  the matinee  idol’s fans craving for more.

And even if  you are not a  Vijay fan, Mersal  won’t  leave you wondering what  all the fuss is about.

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