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'Minnal Murali' review: Look out Batman, Spiderman, Superman, you have competition

Director Basil Joseph adds another jewel in the crown of Malayalam cinema.

December 25, 2021 / 05:46 PM IST
Tovino Thomas (in red T-shirt) in 'Minnal Murali' (Image: screen grab)

Tovino Thomas (in red T-shirt) in 'Minnal Murali' (Image: screen grab)

‘Who are these fellows?’

‘Guys with superpowers. America is working because of them.’

A simple conversation between a nephew and his uncle in a village in Kerala, but you are glued to the screen, silently thanking Netflix for this fab, funny superhero film and giving it a fantastic Christmas release.

You might say: but we’ve seen Krrish and love Mr India, so what’s new? To you I say, Hollywood has a pantheon, and we never get tired of it (the new Spiderman movie should be an indicator), why limit anyone?

Minnal Murali is an origin story that competes with the best of them and I think we’re just discovering desi superheroes!


Life in the village is pretty ordinary: men in a chai shop gossiping about Usha who once ran away coming back with her sick daughter, celestial event to occur soon, and how the head of the police station is going to beat up the tailor boy who is harassing the local beauty, the police head’s daughter…Our hero makes a grand entrance on the boat and as soon as he shows up…

I had so much fun watching Jaison the tailor run from the cops, dream about getting that passport and going to America to stitch fab clothes, his wonderful sister helping him, his brother-in-law (who is a cop!) hating on him, his dad being super kind to him, his nephew… What a great family to have!

The kids in movies are usually too precocious to be liked and I have a mental list of truly obnoxious movie kids, but this young boy Vashisht Umesh (he’s only in the sixth grade! He was accompanied by his parents at the Netflix/MAMI premiere!) who plays the tailor’s nephew Josemon, is very good. He reads comic books and is able to guide his uncle to discover his superpowers. After all, being struck by lightning and surviving has to mean something, right?

The fabulous actor Mammukoya plays the doctor at the hospital who has to offer ‘science’ and reasoning for why Jaison wasn’t killed by the thunderbolt… But Jaison’s been thunderstruck by something else: the police chief’s pretty daughter has broken his heart by marrying a rich guy. And Jaison’s day isn’t going well… So many awful things happen to him, you want to reach out and pat his shoulder (Jaison is played by the very cool Tovino Thomas, who has played such a variety of roles in all his movies, you cannot help but love him).

Jaison is not the only one having an odd day. The quiet chap, Selvan, who has nursed a childhood love for Usha (remember they were gossiping about her?) has been thunderstruck too in more ways than just with the news of her coming back… You love his love story and feel sorry for him until he is turned into a vengeful villain. You cannot even begin to collect your jaw from the floor as you watch Guru Somasundaram (you have seen him in the brilliant Aranya Kaandam) change right in front of your eyes. Two men who choose to be radically opposite make for this superb superhero and supervillain movie.

Kudos to the writing duo Anil Anirdhan and Justin Mathew, and the whole team that created and curated Minnal Murali. Of course, I wish they had given us less of the grand final showdown and more of Bruce Lee and her story (yes, Bruce Lee is a girl, played by the awesome Femina George!), but then that’s the story of Minnal Murali 2 right there! Netflix, Producer Sophia Paul, and MAMI, are you listening?
Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication.
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