Saturday, 21 April 2018

Mercury: 100° C of Silence and Sound

In a meme creator's language, metaphors and Karthik Subbaraj's scripts always have made the best pair. And now, this silent horror, Mercury from the filmmaker too is no exception to that. With a plot that throws light on the victims of chemical industry accidents across the globe, this no-language movie sets to speak the issues of people of all lingual backgrounds, who were sufferers of corporate greed.

Whatever the plot is, for a movie buff who was in cryo-sleep for over a month and a half, Mercury is not just Mercury, but also Oxygen. With that S Ve Shekar-drama type joke, let me start off with this viewer's note.

Despite having a very limited number of people in the cast, Mercury has yielded out the best possible performances of its lead roles played by Prabhudeva, Indhuja, Sananth and Deepak. Also, the movie features, Remya Nambeesan, Shashank and Anish in some pivotal roles.

Having said to be a silent flick like Singeetham Sreenivasa Rao's Pesum Padam starring Kamal Haasan, Mercury's characters at least speak via sign language, which was not seen in the screen-story of Pesum Padam. So, the tag of this movie should be optimised from 'no-language' to 'sign-language'.

Though the movie starts and ends with the factual references to industrial accidents, in its midway, the director seems to have lost the grip on this crux, especially when horror dominates the emotion. Still, Subbaraj manages to justify this towards the end through the apology note left on the car window, denoting a common enemy. Here sign-language escalates to a textual representation.

We also get reminded of movies like Don't Breathe and A Quiet Place through the flow, though the latter had hit the screens weeks before Mercury. Still, we say it is a copy/inspiration, given Karthik Subbaraj, a Tamil filmmaker.

It is not so easy to see Prabhudeva's limbs having a very fewer dynamics in a movie. But, Mercury does that, and undoubtedly pulls it off. For an actor, who has made a major comeback via comedy movies like Devi and Gulebagavali, this transformation is totally risky, yet is really awe-inspiring, as the dance-tornado impresses, without a single step of a dance show, but simply with a conjourous performance.

Since the movie has no words spoken, the sounds and the original score had much to do. And, Santhosh Narayanan has formulated it again for Karthik to induce trepidation like what he had already mastered in Pizza. Still, we feel like an overdose of music here and there.

While, for Indhuja, this does not seem to be her second movie at all, as the girl has already gone to the extremes of method acting. The last five minutes, where she has to replicate another character, she has done it with a sublime confidence. Howbeit, the total surprise was Deepak, who was just a Dubsmash star but has travelled across realms to make his role literally imposing. This guy is going to go places.

Lights always speak the emotions in Karthik's movies. This time, the dialogues of light had a co-author, lensman Tirru. Being a screenplay-writer by himself, it is clearly evident that Tirru has understood what Karthik has been trying to convey in every frame of his screenplay and has eventually, captured the same.

The man of metaphors, who has the habit of placing metaphors to define metaphors, does that once again, but this time in a cacophony of silence. From naming the mercury factory in the beginning to letting it burn in a specific way where a portion of it is left to mean something deeper, Karthik stands out.

The references to Beethoven throughout, the change of vision from multicolour to di-chrome towards the climax and a back and forth sound design and mix on par with it, everything adds more flavours to what Karthik literally wanted to harvest from Mercury. Having had them even more in the middle of the plot with a little more grip, Mercury would have been, nevertheless, still meaningful. And, beyond being a film-freak, a personal opinion also is popping out. How come a filmmaker who has done a movie against corporate greed is tieing up with Sun Pictures, apparently, a corporate in his next flick?

- Santhosh Mathevan,
Chennai, April 21, 2018.