It’s an accepted fact that a mass film revolves around its superstar, with only passing nods to anyone else on screen. But even by those standards, Mersal is an unabashed love fest that spends its almost three-hour runtime worshipping Ilayathalapathy Vijay.
After all, the film serves up to the fans not one but three Vijays. And that means each Vijay has to get the chance to show off his heart of gold, his muscles of steel and his spry dancing skills. If you’re a Vijay fanatic who thinks you can never have enough of a good thing, Mersal is just the kind of action high you’re looking for. Particularly since Director Atlee ropes in Vijayendra Prasad, the screenplay writer behind Baahubali.
There’s one scene in particular, where one of the Vijays single-handedly drags down a giant ferris wheel to knock over a water tank and save all the villagers trapped in a fire. As he then leaps heedlessly into the flames to rescue some children with daring and gusto, you’re almost expecting someone in the watching crowd to scream, “Amarendra Baahubali!”
The film has a pertinent social message to back all of the thrilling action – that all Indians, but especially the poor, are suffering because doctors have forgotten their social responsibility in the greed for profits.
So you have Dr Maaran (Vijay), whose affectionately known as the “five-rupees doctor”, and is internationally feted for his dedication to providing affordable healthcare to people. But there’s also Vetri, a look-alike of Maaran, who’s kidnapping various people associated with the medical profession. As the story unfolds, you learn of how both these men have been wronged by the heartless profiteer Dr Daniel Arockiaraj (SJ Suryah), and why Vetri is on the warpath against him.
Along the way, there are truisms about how medicine should be a service to one’s fellow man, simplistic proposals for improving public health care by forcing all politicians and public servants to go to government hospitals and so on.
Though the film brings together a big star cast including Samantha, Kajal Aggarwal, SJ Suryah, Nithya Menen, Sathyaraj, Vadivelu and Kovai Sarala, all of these characters serve only as a foil to the worship of Vijay. Only Nithya Menen manages to hold some attention on screen with a strong performance. While SJ Suryah tries to give his villainous character some real menace, his role lacks the necessary punch.
But from start to finish, Mersal is all about Vijay, and Ilayathalapathy does not disappoint. With plenty of fights, dances and punch dialogues to showcase his mass effect, Vijay throws everything he has at the fans. And judging from the nearly continuous cheers from the audience that threaten to even drown out the hero’s voice, Vijay has certainly pulled off a Deepavali blockbuster.