THE MERSAL EXPERIENCE






I don’t understand a word of Tamil. But, last evening, I went to watch ‘Mersal’ all alone. Normally, I watch all movies with my wife. Yesterday, when I asked her to join me, she flatly refused. One reason was that she was not free… But, the main reason was, that she wouldn’t understand anything… That’s what she thought.

Thus, I ended up watching ‘Mersal’ in the nearest multiplex all by myself. It was a packed theatre… I was surrounded by all Tamil-speaking audience… young boys and girls, little kids and elderly… I guess I was the only ‘oddball’ out there, who sat through this nearly 3-hour-long latest Tamil blockbuster without the ability to understand a single word in Tamil!

For your information: there were no sub-titles either in English or Hindi or my mother-tongue, Konkani!

But, that hardly made any difference. For, the movie was so fast-paced… the Music (by ‘The Mozart of Madras, A.R.Rahman) was so brilliant… the cinematography (by G.K. Vishnu) was world-class, the story (by K.V. Vijayendra Prasad of Bahubali fame) was, like Bahubali stories – long and complicated for me, though… No complaints. The only complaint I have is for  the violent action-scenes. Well, dances-and-songs, hero-bashing-hundred-bad-guys-alone… these are the mandatory whistle-moments with the South Indian ‘filams’, particaluly the Tamil ones. Even Mani Ratnam’s movies like ‘Roja’ and Rajnikant’s ‘Robot’ (‘Enthiran’ in Tamil… I watched the in Hindi, though) are  so subtly picturised when it comes to mega dance-scenes. Ditto for fight scenes… The Hero is invincible… He can even resurrect from his death to kill the bad guys… But, you know that’s the South Indian movies traditional – time-tested – success formula too… All accept it… the educated and illiterate… Yes, Tamil filams should come with massive dance-songs-fights sequences…

But, I was a little put off with the gory bloodbath in some of the fight sequences… And, I really wondered as to how the movie got the U/A censor certificate!

Did I watch the movie because of the controversy raised by BJP over certain dialogues relating to GST, Digital India and sorry state of Government Hospitals?

No, I did not watch the movie for its controversial dialogues. Now, that I have watched the movie. Let me tell you this: the reference to ‘Digital India’ is made is a comedy scene and all goes in a wink! The GST, and other dialogues are delivered by our hero (Vijay) as a part of his monologue in the last scene… and, again, those two lines go even before you take your next breath!

Such a monumental fuss! Such stupidity… Nobody would have bothered about those dialogues in that 3-hour-long movie but for the fuss made by the politicians… Well, it all added to the curiosity and publicity, and we all know who made a fortune from this dumb-act!

I had watched Hindi films ‘Andha Kanoon’ and ‘Meri Awaz Suno’. Well, those were too blunt and numbing... But, not ‘Mersal’ when it comes to its attack on the ‘System’… Government or Political parties… It attacks a corrupt medical system practiced by some doctors… But, that is a story… and that is a film. Period.

The little children and elderly, the young boys and girls who flock to watch a movie like ‘Mersal’ are not idiots… They enjoy those movies and, hence, we should respect their wishes. If I have a problem with such films, I shouldn’t simply watch them… and, let others do!

Often, in our Public-speaking sessions, when some of our young boys and girls – Punjabis, Sindhis and Gujaratis – talk about their hobbies, they tell us, that they love watching South Indian films… “Do you understand them?” I ask, amused.

“No,” they say, “ but they are great fun!”

I went to watch ‘Mersal’, last evening, because I wanted to have some fun… ‘Golmaal Again’ was running houseful, too. So many were flocking to watch it for the same reason as I and my Tamil brothers, sisters, aunties, bacchas were there for. “To let my hair down,” the other day, a middle-aged lady had told me, “I will be watching, today, ‘Golmaal Again.’”

‘Mersal’ was released on the Diwali day along with ‘Secret Superstar’. I had no clue about “Mersal’ or its super hero ‘Vijay’… My wife and I were waiting in the foyer for 9.30 morning show of ‘Secret Superstar’ to start… Ours was Screen-3. Bang opposite was Screen-5 into which the excited Tamil family-crowd was pouring… The show had started at 9 and the crowd was still pouring in… Whenever the door opened, we would get to sense the power of Tamil music and dialogues… “Which movie is this?” my wife had asked, with curiosity…

I immediately googled and said, ‘Mersal’…

“What?”

After our movie, ‘Secret Superstar’, was over, while leaving the cinema hall hiding my tears, I remembered what my dear friend Bipin, a Gujarati, had said once when I asked him, “Did you watch ‘Taare Zameen Par’?”

“Pagal hai kya… Paise de ke kyun rone ka?”

Point to note? Logic? Makes sense?

Madan, our common friend and a Sindhi, has the answer: “Nonsense!”





The last time I had watched a Tamil film was when I was in school. It was the MGR-Jayalalitha blockbuster, ‘Adimaippenn’, and it was in our home town, Mangalore. There was this theatre by the name ‘Ramakanti’… Only Tamil films were shown there. My elder brother and his friends had watched ‘Adimaippenn’ and were raving about it. So, one afternoon, I quietly slipped into ‘Ramakanti’ to watch MGR-Jayalalitha ‘super hit’… I thoroughly enjoyed the film, though, even till today, I do not know what ‘Adimaippenn’ means!

At least, this time around – thanks to Almighty Google – I do know what ‘Mersal’ means: ‘Shocked’, ‘Stunned’, ‘Amazed’, ‘Amused’ and so on…

That really doesn’t matter… A movie is a movie… It is made only to amuse us, - mersal us -  you see!


GERALD D’CUNHA

Pic.: Malayala Manorama
Video: YouTube


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G. K. Vishnu ... were his parents admirers of G. K. Chesterton?

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