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Monday, December 27, 2021

Minnal Murali (2021) Netflix Honest Movie Review: Superb Malayalam Superhero

Minnal Murali (2021) Netflix Honest Movie Review
pic credit: google images

Quick Glance

Director: Basil Joseph

Writers: Arun Anirudhan Justin Mathew

Stars: Tovino Thomas Guru Somasundaram Vasisht Umesh

IMBD Rating: 8.6/10

Gener: Action Adventure Comedy

This movie looks better… than SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME! And I really mean that! MINNAL MURALI is a brand-new Malayalam language superhero movie, that was just released on Netflix. 

It has been called the very first Malayalam superhero movie, but I think there are some earlier examples as well and it’s also debatable what can qualify as a superhero movie. But MINNAL MURALI certainly has the typical hallmarks you expect from the genre. 

Storyline & Movie Review

A down on his luck guy who accidentally gains superpowers, an evil counterpart, who’s rising at the same time. Costumes, some action, moral choices, and so on. It was directed by Basil Joseph and written by Arun Anirudhan and Justin Mathew and apparently, it was realized on a very small budget, which converts to roughly two and a half million US dollars. 

Really nothing compared to the hundreds of millions that an American superhero movie usually costs. So obviously it’s not a fair comparison and when it comes to some computer effects and action scenes, you notice the budgetary restraints. 

But here’s the thing. Not only does the film succeed when it comes to the most important aspects, like the story, characters, atmosphere, or just heart and soul, but like I said in my introduction, I would also argue that it nonetheless looks better than a lot of recent Hollywood superhero movies, including SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME. 

A movie that I enjoyed a lot but also one that I would honestly call a little bit ugly, too. The aesthetic of many MCU movies, the shot compositions, the contrast, and especially the color grading – often times these movies are only doing the bare minimum and they tend to look rather flat and uninspired. 

And even when it comes to CGI, they often overdo it or do not put enough extra work into it, so you always have elements that stick out. MINNAL MURALI on the other hand looks pretty fantastic. It looks alive, it was shot in real locations. Locations that immerse you. Locations that create atmosphere. 

Superb Malayalam Superhero

The film has striking colors and isn’t just this drab mess. And all of it isn’t just filmed in the most basic way. It’s not the most expressive cinematography either, but there are definitely some nice artistic choices to be found. So that’s what I mean when I say, this looks actually better than many big MCU superhero movies that cost so much more money. 

The cinematography was done by Sameer Thahir and he does a nice job finding the right images and visual moods for this story and the tone the movie wants to convey. MINNAL MURALI is a really nice feel-good film, that has a good dose of tragedy and some tenser moments, but also a lot of humor and levity. 


Starting with lead actor Tovino Thomas’ wonderful performance as Jaison, a sweet and little bit naïve and all in all good-hearted guy, who dreams of leaving this little village of Kurukkanmoola to go to the United States. I’ve really liked Tovino Thomas in another movie this year, KALA – but in this one, he’s very different and just really likable. 

Like many Malayalam movies, MINNAL MURALI really takes its time to establish its setting, this location, the characters, and a little bit about their motivations and relationships. And when the focus shifts to another guy, not as quirky as Jaison and more of a social outcast, it’s easy to understand that this one will probably end up being our villain. 

But this is where the movie really shines. Not only does Guru Somasundaram give a really special and heartfelt performance, but the film puts in the effort to make his character and his arc really understandable or even relatable. 

Both central characters have some tragic elements to their backstories and both have a romance gone wrong. And both also have some specific comedic touch to them. For example, in the middle section when no one really knows their secret identity and people think it’s just one person, who strangely enough does good but also bad deeds. 

Not all superhero movies should be the same but a good and proven formula is that you need a compelling, charismatic villain to make your hero and movie as a whole really shine. And Guru’s Shibu is that villain. A villain, whose reasons, whose despair you can understand. 

The film and the audience have a lot of sympathy for him and that’s really adding a lot of emotional weight to it. Unfortunately, the hero’s arc is almost a bit weak in comparison. I mean there’s enough there. 

Also, elements that ring are very familiar. A tragic family story, a reveal about his true background that makes him question his identity and the decisions to do the right thing and not give in to power fantasies or neglect his responsibility. 

Still, it could’ve come a little bit more ahead. It could’ve been a little bit more of a challenge for him, not just physically. The biggest inner conflict is not much more than him finding the courage to accept that he was wrong and has to apologize to someone. 

Maybe you just need a few more little moments and a bit more emphasis on the themes. I also felt that his relationship with the martial arts instructor Biji, aka Bruce Lee, played by Femina George, and her character itself, were a little bit underwritten. 

There are a few great scenes with her, but not as much as I was hoping for. A relationship I really enjoyed though was the one with Jaison’s little nephew Josemon, who is the only one who knows about his secret identity. Because he’s a kid and he knows about superheroes like Batman or Superman. 

This connection adds a lot of lighthearted joy and excitement about being a superhero or having a superhero as a friend. Which reminded me of the dynamic between the teenagers in SHAZAM! or SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING. 

Final Words and Score

I’m always a sucker for origin stories and I really enjoyed how they are testing and finding out about Jaison’s new abilities. And I also liked how the movie alternates between Jaison’s and Shibu’s stories, also how similar but also different some of their powers are, until their stories become one of course. 

It’s a new experience for both of them and because of their different backgrounds and the way people are treating them, their social surroundings, they are developing in very different directions. And again, there’s also something really funny about the way the movie puts them both together, when only we as the audience fully know what’s going on at that point. 

And I think this is something that MINNAL MURALI is really succeeding in. Finding a good balance. A good balance of comedy and seriousness. A good balance of being grounded but also being a little bit over the top. 

But mostly, a good balance of already familiar superhero tropes, things that we know by heart, and then putting them into this specific Malayalam setting with its strong local flavor and cultural aspects that are more specific. 

The family entanglements, arranged marriages, secret love, abuse of power by the police, and so on. Of course, all elements aren’t unique to Indian cinema and culture, yet they are in these specific shapes and forms. 

As is the wonderful background score composed by Sushin Shyam and the several lovely songs composed by Shaan Rahman and Sushin Shyam. 

The movie has its shortcomings but there’s also so much here to enjoy and have fun with. So in general I’d say: I give MINNAL MURALI 8.5 out of 10. It’s more like 8 but I don’t do that.



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