Story & Narration
Technical Aspects & Presentation
An emotionally tackling, visually spellbinding experience.
Summary : Merku Thodarchi Malai may not be your cup of tea if you are looking out for generic cinema, but this is perfect arthouse material that will be talked about in the years to come. With a rooted story, real-life characters and worrying situations, Lenin Bharathi’s slice-of-life film makes a strong mark. If you are a fan of good cinema, please bookmark this.
Cast: Antony, Gayathri Krishnaa, Abu Valayankulam, Kodangipatti Mokkathayi, MS Lai, Master Smith & others
Cinematography: Theni Easwar
Editing: Mu Kasi Viswanathan
Written & Directed by: Lenin Bharathi
Produced by: Dream Tree Productions & Vijay Sethupathi Productions
Release Date: 23-08-2018
Run Time: 01:58:00
While many directors in the past have tried to bridge the gap between being realistic on screen and the actual ground reality, there has been mostly been a slightly line that separates both the divisions. In Merku Thodarchi Malai though, debutant Lenin Bharathi somewhat mirages out that slight line, giving us an undiluted look at the working class in the Western Ghats, the troubles they face and the changes in their lives.
At every point of the film, there’s something that hits you in the gut and projects the exact proceedings of what could have happened at those junctures. And this is because the picturisation, the characters and the milieu are so stunningly real. Any common director would not have been able to pull this off, for it requires tons of research, life study and a possible stay at that area for a certain period of time. Leave everything else aside, Merku Thodarchi Malai even denies mainstream actors and picks its ‘characters’ out of the real life situations, making it absolutely believable.
Lenin Bharathi fits the first half of the film following the lives of the plantation workers and landless labor, taking us through a day of their lives. There’s happiness, business, sorrow and family all laded in this half of the film, which halts at an interesting turn. It is only in the second half that the film travails a twisted road, packed with haps and mishaps that ultimately culminate in a wonderful climax.
Merku Thodarchi Malai’s terrific cinematography is a huge boon to the film. Contrary to usual skills with the camera, Theni Eshwar’s astounding shot composition is a lesson for learners. Note how he fills the screen with natural elements, puts his characters in a corner and then zooms to them, uses aerial shots to provide a bird’s eye view of the superb landscape, and tells a story visually at many places where there is no dialogue. This is award-worthy stuff that deserves your eyes.
Ilayaraja’s music is mostly quiet in the first half, but then comes to the fore in the second half where it aids the flow of the narrative. The film is also crisply edited within a perfect runtime of 2 hours.
Merku Thodarchi Malai may not be your cup of tea if you are looking out for generic cinema, but this is perfect arthouse material that will be talked about in the years to come. With a rooted story, real-life characters and worrying situations, Lenin Bharathi’s slice-of-life film makes a strong mark. If you are a fan of good cinema, please bookmark this.
Merku Thodarchi Malai Movie Review Rating: 3.5/5
Written By: Siddarth Srinivas
Also, read our other Tamil Movie Reviews