Merku Thodarchi Malai review: Not your typical commercial film
Merku Thodarchi Malai is an artistic gem, do not miss it.
Friday 24 August 2018
Merku Thodarchi Malai
Rangasamy, Abu Valayangulam, Anthony Vaathiyaar, Gayathri Krishna
In Merku Thodarchi Malai, director Lenin Bharathi has actually transported us to the western ghats...makes us travel along with his characters who are landless labors and how the advent of industrialization shatters their peaceful life.
The film begins in a tiny house, an old lady in her half sleep awakens Rangasamy (Antony) in the wee hours of a rainy day. Rangasamy gets up sheepishly, he goes to a tea shop filled with a bunch of old men, gets tea for him and his mom. Over a cup of tea, they speak about a land registration, the son wants the land to be registered in the name of her old mom. Later, he travels along with a group of people to a small town and visits his boss who gives him a chit and money.
Rangasamy then climbs up to a hilly village in western ghats, gives the chit to a businessman and the money to an accountant. On his way, Rangasamy and the other workers meet a communist labor activist Chako (Abu Valayangulam), we get to see how workers are being treated in the cardamon estate, their day-to-day lifestyle, the small tea and eatery shops, their love for the hill, trees, and honesty. Rangasamy also gets married to a girl in the village and they have a son!
Lenin spends almost the entire first half of the film to establish his characters and what is more special is that he strongly registers that for the folks living in the hilly village, relationship and love are better than everything else in the world, money only comes secondary. Rangasamy’s biggest aim is to buy a land for him and settle down in life. All these things happen only before the industrialization and advent of technology. There is a particular scene in which Rangasamy’s lifetime aim gets shattered accidentally because of his friend but it doesn’t affect their relationship much.
In another scene, labor activist Chacko says that the arrival of roads will bring machines which would affect the workers and as we think that he is just another old-school guy, a greedy businessman and his love for money turns everyone’s life upside down. Sadly, what Chacko tells his people and warn them also becomes true.
Merku Thodarchi Malai is not the typical commercial film, it’s a pure artistic movie that one needs the patience to watch. It is painfully slow in the first half and you will need immense patience to watch this one. The actors are very real, even the dialogues often get overlapped just like another real-world conversation. But performance wise, no one actually stands out because Lenin Bharathi has made this film in such a way that there is no specific importance given for one character, we get to see them just as one of the people in the village. Even the frames were not focused to capture the emotions of one specific actor or actress, everything has been captured as if our eyes are placed somewhere near them.
Merku Thodarchi Malai’s biggest strength is undoubtedly cinematographer Theni Eshwar, his frames and camera angle effortlessly travel with the characters. Music by Ilaiyaraaja is just functional and nothing extraordinary which is quite unusual for Isaignani’s standards. In various places, Eshwar has used the aerial shots and each time it gives different emotions. In one top shot, we get to see the passion and faith of a hard-working old man and the climax aerial shot leave you speechless, we are just get sucked by the emotions and grief of Rangasamy who lost all his hope, watches all the merciless things happened to him without even saying anything justifying his watchman job.
Merku Thodarchi review: Verdict: An artistic gem
Reactions from Social Media:
Haricharan Pudipeddi @pudiharicharan
#MerkuThodarchiMalai pleasantly surprised me with its moving story about life and politics of the working class along the western ghats. Exquisitely shot and there's not a single bad frame that feels out of place. The visuals breathe life into the overall viewing experience.
#MerkuThodarchiMalai: Emotional, hard-hitting tale. Gives you a rooted story packed with real-life characters and worrying situations. Credit to @VijaySethuOffl for greenlighting this, and @leninbharathi1 makes great use of the opportunity.
#MerkuThodarchiMalai is an artistic gem depicting the plight of landless labors. @leninbharathi1 has taken us to the world of western ghats.The film makes us to root for earthy characters, communist politics, betrayal & industrialization. The poignant climax sends out speechless.
Kaushik LM @LMKMovieManiac
#MerkuThodarchiMalai 1st half - Visually stunning take on the livelihood & struggles of the labour class, living in the Western Ghats (TN - Kerala border). No cinematic compromises; has spectacular drone shots by Dop Theni Eshwar. Has some light, fun moments too. @leninbharathi1
S Abishek @cinemapayyan
The wait is over
A touching tale of the working class. A story based on a specific landscape, #MerkuThodarchiMalai has earned some really important awards and now it’s time for the box office to validate the product
Ramesh Bala @rameshlaus
#MerkuThodarchiMalai [3.5/5]: A World-Class Movie in Tamil Cinema.. Very realistic portrayal of ppl living in Western Ghats (TN - KE Border).. Nothing melodramatic.. Has humor and all the emotions.. Mostly locals have acted as supporting actors.. Adding to the authenticity..
Prashanth Rangaswamy @itisprashanth
Antony - Male lead of #merkuthodarchimalai . Just watch the movie and you will have loads to say about him . Life time performance from him.