Mersal (film)

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Mersal
Mersal poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAtlee Kumar
Produced byN. Ramasamy
Hema Rukmani
H. Murali
Screenplay byAtlee Kumar
K. V. Vijayendra Prasad
S. Ramana Girivasan
Story byAtlee Kumar
StarringVijay
Kajal Aggarwal
Samantha Akkineni
Nithya Menen
S. J. Surya
Vadivelu
Sathyaraj
Music bySongs:
A. R. Rahman
Score:
A. R. Rahman
Qutub-E-Kripa
CinematographyG. K. Vishnu
Edited byRuben
Production
company
Distributed bySri Thenandal Films
Release date
  • 18 October 2017 (2017-10-18) (Worldwide)[1]
Running time
169 minutes
CountryIndia
LanguageTamil
Budget120 crore[2]
Box officeest.260 crore[3][4](see below)

Mersal (transl. Zapped) is a 2017 Indian Tamil-language action thriller film[5] directed by Atlee and co-written by Atlee, K. V. Vijayendra Prasad and S. Ramana Girivasan, in charge of the dialogues, and produced by Thenandal Studio Limited, thus becoming their 100th production. The film stars Vijay in a triple role, alongside Kajal Aggarwal, Samantha Akkineni, and Nithya Menen. S.J.Suryah, Vadivelu and Sathyaraj amongst other portray supporting roles.

The story revolves around two twin brothers in which one is a magician avenging for his father's death and medical crimes. The other one is a reputed doctor who charges meagre amounts from his patients. The film's principal photography commenced on 1 February 2017, at Chennai, and filming took place on Gdańsk, Poland and Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. The background score and soundtrack album were composed by A. R. Rahman, while the cinematography was done by G. K. Vishnu and edited by Ruben.

Mersal was released worldwide on 18 October 2017, coinciding with Diwali and opened to positive reviews with critics praising the performance of Vijay, A. R. Rahman's soundtrack, the cinematography, the social message and Atlee's direction, but criticised the cliché plot and excessive length. The film was a commercial success, grossing ₹260 crore (US$40 million) worldwide, becoming the fifth-highest grossing Indian Tamil film and Vijay's highest-grossing film in his career. The film's dubbed Telugu version Adirindhi released on 9 November 2017. The film completed 100-day theatrical run on 25 January 2018.[4][6][7]

The film was released on 6 December 2018 in China by HGC Entertainment.[8] Due to demand, the film was screened at the largest cinema theatre in Europe Grand Rex, France.[9] The film was screened at the Hainan International Film Festival in Hainan, China[10] and at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival in South Korea.[11]

Plot[edit]

An ambulance driver, a broker, a hospital human resources worker, and a surgeon are abducted under mysterious circumstances at dawn. The abductions are traced to Dr. Maaran, a world-famous doctor from Chennai known for providing 5 treatment to patients of all sections of society. Maaran is arrested and interrogated by Ratnavel "Randy", a police officer who is assigned the abduction case. Maaran explains his motive for the abductions; An Auto Driver's daughter had been severely injured and the four were responsible for the death of the auto driver's school-going daughter and his wife due to their greed for money in the name of providing proper healthcare. He also adds that he had already killed all of them while they were in his captivity.

At this juncture, Maaran reveals that he is not Maaran but is his doppelgänger Vetri, a magician. Vetri was responsible for the death of Dr. Arjun Zachariah, a corrupt doctor who was killed during a stage performance in Paris two years earlier, by Vetri himself by using Anupallavi who is also his love interest. He further adds that he had saved Maaran from getting killed by the henchmen of Dr. Daniel Arockiyaraj. Daniel, another corrupt doctor had been associated with Arjun who sees Maaran's inexpensive healthcare as a threat to his flourishing hospital business. After beating them up,Vetri knocks out Maaran unconscious and swaps place with him. Then he provides clues to the police which led to his arrest as showed in the beginning. Maaran is rescued, while Vetri, with the help of his magic tricks, manages to escape from Randy.

Later, Maaran confronts Vetri and fights him, believing him to be the cause of all his problems with the law as well as with Daniel, who had threatened Maaran to reveal the location of Vetri while keeping his mother Sarala and fiancée Tara hostage. Vadivu, Maaran's compounder, and also Vetri's assistant intervene in their fight and explains to Maaran why Vetri is targeting doctors indulging in corrupt medical practices in general and Daniel and Arjun in particular.

Maaran was the elder son of Vetrimaaran, a village wrestler. Vetrimaaran being referred to as Thalapathy by his villagers decides to build a temple in his area. He holds a large scale event for the building day with a festive mode. However, a fire had started causing many people and children to get injured and two children had died due to their lack of mobility. By the advice of Ice, Vetrimaaran had established a hospital with the help of a younger Daniel and Arjun in his village Manoor in Madurai district. Daniel and Arjun were also made as to the chief doctors of the hospital.

However, it soon turns out that Daniel and Arjun were money-minded crooks and performed a Caesarean section on Vetrimaaran's wife Aishwarya "Ice" when she was in labor with her second child, with the intention of extracting more money from Vetrimaaran, even though she could deliver the child normally. Ice lost a lot of blood during the operation, and that, along with an overdose of anesthesia, led to her death, while the child was declared stillborn. When Vetrimaaran found out how Ice had died, he went to confront Daniel, empty beer bottles start to hit him and the back of Vetrimaaran was stabbed to death by one of Daniel's henchmen, but just before he died, he placed an unconscious Maaran (who had been struck on the head with a glass bottle by Daniel's henchman) safely on a Chennai-bound lorry. Due to the impact the glass bottle had on his head, Maaran lost his memory and is unable to recollect anything that happened before he was hit on the head.

Meanwhile, Vetrimaaran's second child did not turn out to be stillborn, and this child was none other than Vetri. Vetri was adopted by a famous magician named Salim Ghosh, and it was from him that Vetri learned all his magic tricks. On hearing Vadivu's story, Maaran reconciles with Vetri and takes his place when the police come to arrest Vetri. With Vetri (who is actually Maaran) seemingly in custody, Daniel tries to make a deal with Maaran (who is actually Vetri) to shut down his practice. However, when he finds out the truth, he rushes to Vetri's hideout, bringing with him an unconscious Maaran, who had met with an accident orchestrated by Daniel while he was being taken to court, with the intention of killing both Vetri and Maaran. However, Vetri and Maaran, with the help of their respective professional skills, team up to kill Daniel.

Later, however, Vetri is arrested for his role in the murders of Daniel and Arjun as well as the four people killed earlier in the film and is sentenced to prison for an unspecified period of time. Before going to jail, he gives a press conference justifying his actions and adds that he would continue with the murders until all doctors and hospital staff indulging in corrupt practices are eliminated. In prison, Vetri watches a news report in which a young girl in Odisha had died due to negligent medical treatment. On hearing this, Vetri escapes with the help of his magic tricks, thus continuing his mission. In a mid-credits scene, Maaran has conferred a statewide recognized medical counselor post, which he accepts.

Cast[edit]

  • Vijay in a triple role as
    • Vetrimaaran, a village wrestler, commonly referred by the people as "Thalapathy" and who gets killed by Daniel and Kasi
    • Dr. Maaran, Vetrimaaran's first son, a doctor who serves people for just 5 rupees and gets conferred a statewide medical counselor post
    • Vetri, Vetrimaaran's second son, a magician/doctor assassin and Maaran's younger brother who gets arrested for his role in the murders
  • Kajal Aggarwal as Anu Pallavi, Vetri's love interest, a doctor and Arjun's assistant
  • Samantha Ruth Prabhu as Tara, a media reporter, and Maaran's fiancée
  • Nithya Menen as Aishwarya "Ice" Vetrimaaran, Vetrimaaran's wife who dies in a hospital due to blood loss and overdose of anaesthesia
  • S. J. Surya as Daniel Arockiyaraj, a greedy and corrupt doctor who kills Vetrimaaran
  • Vadivelu as Vadivu, Maaran's compounder and Vetri's assistant
  • Sathyaraj as DC Rathnavel "Randy", a police officer with Tamil Nadu Police
  • Kovai Sarala as Sarala, Maaran's adoptive mother who gets taken hostage by Daniel
  • Hareesh Peradi as Arjun Zachariah, Daniel's friend and another doctor who gets killed while performing a magic trick
  • Rajendran as Minister of Health
  • Sathyan as Maniya, Rathnavel's assistant
  • Yogi Babu as Nolin
  • Misha Ghoshal as Tara's friend
  • Mamilla Shailaja Priya as Tara's mother
  • Sangili Murugan as Salim Ghosh, a magician who taught magic to Vetri
  • Kaali Venkat as the auto driver whose daughter meets with an accident and whose wife commits suicide
  • Devadarshini as Nurse
  • Surekha Vani as Nurse

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

Following the release of Atlee's Theri, in which Vijay starred, the pair was signed by Sri Thenandal Films for another project together in September 2016.[12][13] Safwan Saleem, the chief executive officer of the production house, revealed that the film would be written by writer K. V. Vijayendra Prasad, who had earlier worked in films like the Baahubali series and Bajrangi Bhaijaan.[14] The action sequences of the film are directed by Anal Arasu. Atlee's usual cinematographer George C. Williams whom worked for Raja Rani and Theri, was supposed to work in this film too, but failed due to clash with his other project. G. K. Vishnu was signed later on making his debut in this film.[15] Vijay learnt a few magic tricks in preparation for his role as the magician. He learnt the magic tricks from three magicians: Gogo Requiem from the Republic of Macedonia, Raman Sharma from Canada, and Dani Belev from Bulgaria.[16]

Casting[edit]

The city of Gdańsk, Poland, served as Paris for the film.[17]

The producers announced in January 2017 that three lead actresses – Jyothika, Kajal Aggarwal and Samantha would portray the female lead-roles in the film. The production team later revealed that due to some unavoidable reasons actress Jyothika opted out of the film.[18] The role went to Nithya Menon.[19] Actors S. J. Suryah and Sathyaraj also joined the cast as supporting actors, with comedians Vadivelu, Kovai Sarala, Sathyan and Rajendran.[20] Suryah is playing villainous role with two looks in the movie.[21] Composer A. R. Rahman, editor Ruben, costume designer Neeraja Kona and debutant cinematographer G. K. Vishnu, an erstwhile assistant of Richard M. Nathan were also a part to the technical team.[22][23]

Filming[edit]

A launch event for the film was held at Adityaram Studios in Chennai on 1 February 2017, with production beginning thereafter.[24][25] The team has decided to shoot a with Vijay and Kajal Aggarwal song in Jaisalmer during the summer despite the hot weather.[26] The steam engine named 7161WP AKBAR was used in this movie while shooting in Rajasthan.[27][28] Some of the filming was conducted in Poland (Gdańsk, Poznań[29] and Rzeszów's airport[30]), as well as in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia.[31] The shooting was held in Chennai, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan and Konaseema in Andhra Pradesh, while the songs were filmed overseas. It is reported that, due to indefinite strike announced by Film Employees Federation of South India, Mersal team were waiting to film few portions of the movie, which has now been completed.[32]

Themes and influences[edit]

The character Maaran (or ₹5 doctor), played by Vijay in the film, was inspired from Dr. Balasubramanian, a doctor who hails from Bodinayakkanur, Theni district, and charges ₹2 from patients. It is also known that Vijay's character Jeevanantham in Kaththi (2014), is inspired from a real-life social activist.[33]

Critics noted that the film has similarities related to Rajinikanth-starrer Moondru Mugam (1982),[34] and Kamal Haasan's Apoorva Sagodharargal (1989; Appu Raja in Hindi).[35]

Music[edit]

A. R. Rahman composed the soundtrack album and background score of Mersal, teaming up with Vijay for the third time, after his films Udhaya (2004), and Azhagiya Tamizh Magan (2007), and his first collaboration with Atlee. The lyrics for the film were written by Vivek, who also teams up with Rahman for the first time. The audio rights of the film were acquired by Sony Music India, for a record price.[36]

"Aalaporaan Thamizhan", a song from the film was released as a single on 10 August 2017, sung by Kailash Kher,[37] Sathya Prakash, Deepak and Pooja Vaidyanath, portrays about the popularity of Tamil speaking men all over the world. The second single track "Neethanae" sung by Shreya Ghoshal and Rahman was released on 17 August 2017.[37] The album features other remaining songs "Maacho" sung by Sid Sriram and Shweta Mohan, and "Mersal Arasan" sung by G. V. Prakash Kumar, Naresh Iyer, Sharanya Srinivas, T. G. Vishwaprasad.[38]

The audio launch event was held on 20 August 2017, at Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai.[39][40] The event was telecasted live on the official YouTube channel of Sony Music South, Facebook and Twitter accounts of the production house. It was rumoured that the live telecast of the launch will be aired in three television channels,[41] however it was aired live on Sun TV.[42] The film's cast and crew and other celebrities such as Dhanush, Sundar. C, amongst others were attended at the event, which was hosted by R. Parthiban.[43] Rahman and his musical team gave a stage performance at the audio launch.[44][45]

Mersal
Soundtrack album by
Released20 August 2017
Recorded2017
StudioPanchathan Record Inn and AM Studios, Chennai
GenreFeature film soundtrack
Length19:06
LanguageTamil
LabelSony Music
ProducerA. R. Rahman
A. R. Rahman chronology
Viceroy's House
(2017)
Mersal
(2017)
2.0
(2017)
Singles from Mersal
  1. "Aalaporaan Thamizhan"
    Released: 10 August 2017 (2017-08-10)
  2. "Neethanae"
    Released: 17 August 2017 (2017-08-17)
Track list
No.TitleSinger(s)Length
1."Maacho"Sid Sriram, Shweta Mohan4:35
2."Mersal Arasan"G.V. Prakash Kumar, Naresh Iyer, Sharanya Srinivas, T. G. Vishwaprasad4:16
3."Neethanae"A. R. Rahman, Shreya Ghoshal4:29
4."Aalaporaan Thamizhan"Kailash Kher, D. Sathyaprakash, Deepak Blue, Pooja Vaidyanath5:48

The soundtrack album received positive reviews from critics upon its release, and the album crossed 100 million streams, within 10 days, setting a streaming record for a Tamil album.[46] Amongst all the songs, "Aalaporan Thamizhan" was highly praised. Upon its release, it topped the charts in iTunes and all the other digital platforms,[47] and also emerged as the #1 song in India, by World Music Awards.[48] It has also been the most searched songs of India as per the announcement made by Google, and also topped the most searched topic at Google Trends.[49] The music video of "Aalaporan Thamizhan" crossed 100 million views, as of 11 April 2019.[50] A source from The Times of India, stated that "The number is all about Tamil pride, and that struck a chord with listeners. It used a lot of native instruments in the background score and Vivek’s lyrics spoke about the history and what it means to be a Tamizhan. Despite so many months, it remains a favourite among Vijay fans."

Behindwoods rated the album 3 out of 5, stating that "AR Rahman weaves out a mass based classy album fitting in all the elements required for Vijay's screen presence!"[51] Firstpost reviewed it as "The Mersal album is not a typical AR Rahman one. It doesn't weave magic or get you grooving immediately, but it is exactly what would happen if you mix Vijay's commercial expectations and AR Rahman's trademark music. With few catchy and few forgettable tracks, Mersal is a mixed bag of tunes and lots of noteworthy lyrics."[52] Studioflicks rated the album 3.5 out of 5, stating that "Just four songs from AR Rahman is really a surprise, but then it lets us envisage how substantial the screenplay would be that couple of songs in first and second half each would be engrossing. Maybe, the makers can release a theme music later in time. As on whole, four tracks with four different genres is a real big and different treat from A.R.Rahman for his fans. With Vijay to take care of top-notch dance, one need not worry about the results."[53]

Archana Nathan from Scroll.in reviewed it as "AR Rahman’s score for the Vijay-starrer ‘Mersal’ tries to accommodate the requirements of a mass entertainer."[54] Top10 Cinema reviewed it as "Mersal album has just four tracks, but AR Rahman has exerted the best of his efforts appealing to the masses, especially for Vijay fans. Every song is based on different genres and it will surely engross everyone."[55] Bollywoodlife rated the album 4 out of 5 stars, stating "With an album liek this, he has made us realise that even after 25 years, AR Rahman, the musicla maetsro hasn't lost his sheen, magic or his ability to surprise! He has made us fall in love with this music yet again!"[56] V Lakshmi from The Times of India rated 3.5 out of 5, stating that "Rahman has been on an experimental mode in his last few albums, and he continues experimenting in 'Mersal' as well, especially with tunes and indigenous instruments. While the lengthy numbers may not catch your attention immediately, listen to them in loop and they are sure to find a place in your playlist."[57]

Moviecrow rated the album 3 out of 5, stating that "AR Rahman delivers mass album to satiate Vijay fans but the soundtrack is far-off from the composer’s best."[58] Onlykollywood rated the album 3.5 out of 5, stating that "AR Rahman might not be in his best form here, but with Mersal, he surely delivers an enthralling soundtrack that has one of each kind. Lyricist Vivek needs to be appreciated for his efforts here, showing the change in the different kinds of music that comes at every turn. With colourful, rich filming, the songs should be a sure-fire treat onscreen giving the audience a big basket of reasons to celebrate."[59]

Release[edit]

Mersal released worldwide on 18 October 2017, coinciding with the Diwali festival. Before its release, the film faced issues regarding the title issues,[60] and censorship because, the film denied approval from Animal Welfare Board of India, granting NoC, for their usage of a few animals without permission,[61] as a result of denying censorship from the Central Board of Film Certification. On 16 October 2017, the film received a U/A certificate from CBFC,[62] with few cuts after getting NoC from AWBI.

The film opened on more than 3,300 screens worldwide which is highest for a Tamil film.[63] In Malaysia, the film released on 800 screens,[64] and more than 350 screens in Kerala.[65] In Karnataka, the film was released in 100 screens, and in Andhra Pradesh, it accounted 400 screens.[66] The film was screened at Grand Rex, France, which is the largest cinema theatre in Europe, due to the high demand of the film.[9] The film's dubbed Telugu version Adirindhi was released on 9 November 2017.[67]

Mersal was released in Japan on four major cities Tokyo, Ebino, Osaka and Nakayama, which is the highest for a Tamil film.[68] The film was released in China by HGC Entertainment on 6 December 2018, through 10,000 screens, which Mersal becomes the first Tamil film to be released in this country.[69][70] The film was screened at the Hainan International Film Festival in Hainan, China on March 2019,[10] and at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival in Bucheon, South Korea at 29 July 2018.[11]

Distribution[edit]

North Star Entertainment along with SN Techs Film Distribution Company have secured the distribution rights for the film in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana; Global United Media has secured the distribution for the film in Kerala;[71] Horizon Studios acquired the Karnataka rights; MKS Talkies has secured the distribution rights for the film in Australia and New Zealand, ATMUS Entertainment has secured the distribution rights for the film in United States.[72][73]

Marketing[edit]

The first look poster was released on 21 June 2017, revealing the title as Mersal. The poster features Vijay in a Jallikattu attire, and the title logo is described as a bull symbol.[74][75] The name was derived from "Mersalaayitten", a song composed by Rahman for I (2015).[60] The second look was released, coinciding with Vijay's birthday, on 22 June 2017, featuring Vijay as a magician.[76]

The title Mersal has been trademarked. This means if any group or company would like to use the title Mersal for any commercial purposes would have to pay a royalty fee to Mersal team.[77][78] The film has become first South-Indian film to get a Twitter emoji of its first look.[79][80] This is also something new for a South Indian film.

The official teaser of the film was released on 21 September 2017.[81] The teaser received positive responses from audiences, and crossed 10 million views within 19 hours,[82] and 641,000 likes, thus becoming the most liked movie teaser in the world.[83][84] On 8 October 2017, two promos of Mersal, were aired on Star Vijay, with the world television premiere of Baahubali 2: The Conclusion.[85] The video songs of Mersal, were premiered on Zee Tamil, exclusively on 19 November 2017.[86]

Home media[edit]

The television broadcast rights were sold to Zee Tamil for 30 crore in July 2017.[87][88] The film had its global television premiere on 14 January 2018 on occasion of the Thai Pongal Festival,[89] The satellite rights of the dubbed Telugu and Malayalam versions were acquired by Star Maa and Asianet. It is available in OTT-through Zee5 and Netflix.[90]

Reception[edit]

Mersal opened to positive reviews from critics.[91] The Times of India rated the film 3.5 out of 5 stars and said "With Mersal, we have got this year's most engaging mass masala movie. When you have a mass hero in full form like Vijay is in the film, how can things go wrong?".[92] The Indian Express also gave 3.5 out of 5 stars stating: "Atlee has not just exploited Vijay's stardom to deliver a flamboyant crowd-pleaser (which he did in Theri already) but has fleshed out an interesting script that plays up the best onscreen traits of the actor.[93] Sify rated the film 3 out of 5 stars and said "Thalapathy Vijay's Mersal is a formulaic mass masala action film with a strong social message, whistle worthy moments, eye candy heroines and grand visuals. This film relies squarely on the charm of its leading man to pull off its over-the-top tone".[94] Hindustan Times said "For Vijay and his fans, Atlee has delivered a celebratory film" and gave the film 3 out of 5 stars.[95] Behindwoods.com stated there are triple Vijay in the movie and it had created triple positive impact and rated it 2.75 out of 5 stars.[96]

Social impact[edit]

Upon release, several notions expressed in the film were opposed by various organisations. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the ruling political party of Government of India, and the then-ruling AIADMK had objected to scenes in which the protagonist, played by Vijay, criticises the recently introduced Goods and Services Tax,[97][98] and also a scene in which a character ridicules Digital India, an initiative promoted by the BJP.[99][100] The party demanded that those scenes be cut from the film for future viewership.[101] These acts were seen as an attack on freedom of expression by opposing political parties and various other celebrities working in Tamil cinema.[102][103]

Several medical associations such as the Tamil Nadu Government Doctors’ Association, condemned the film for the alleged cynical portrayal of doctors working in government-operated hospitals.[104] Doctors working with the Indian Medical Association, shared links of the film on pirated websites online, in the hope that it would cause monetary losses to the makers of the film.[105]

Economics[edit]

Pre-release business[edit]

The overall pre-release business of Mersal is reported to be in the region of 156 crore (US$22 million),[106] which includes the Tamil Nadu theatrical rights about 70 crore (US$9.8 million),[106] Karnataka distribution rights about 5.5 crore (US$770,000),[106] Kerala rights about 6.6 crore (US$930,000),[71][106] Andhra Pradesh and Nizam rights about 4.6 crore (US$640,000),[106] Rest of India, for 80 lakh (US$110,000),[106] and Overseas rights about 26 crore (US$3.6 million),[106] with the worldwide theatrical rights accounting to 113.5 crore (US$16 million),[106] whilst the satellite rights, sold to 28 crore (US$3.9 million),[106] music rights for 3.5 crore (US$490,000),[106] home video rights for 1.5 crore (US$210,000),[106] and Hindi dubbing rights for 11 crore (US$1.5 million).[107]

Box office[edit]

In its five-day opening weekend, the film collected 140 crore worldwide[108][109] and 170 crore worldwide in its first week.[110] In 12 days, the film grossed 200 crore worldwide, including 130 crore domestically in India and 70 crore in overseas markets, including Malaysia, Sri Lanka, the United States, and United Kingdom. It has become the highest-grossing film of Vijay's career, becoming his first film to join the 200 crore club.[111] At the end of its fifth week the film has reportedly collected about 120 crore in Tamil Nadu alone, 16 crore in Kerala, 13 crore in Karnataka and 15 crore from the rest of India tallying 164 crore domestically and totalling up to 250 crore worldwide.[112]

Awards and nominations[edit]

References[edit]

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  25. ^ "Nithya Menen replaces Jyothika in 'Thalapathy 61'". Retrieved 24 May 2017.
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