When you’re Karthik Subbaraj and you have works like Pizza, Jigarthanda and Iraivi in your repertoire, you’re the Quentin Tarantino of sorts of Tamil Cinema and you’re allowed to do anything with a camera and a bunch of artists. If Pizza and Jigarthanda didn’t earn him that right, Iraivi certainly did.Though i do hope that he doesn’t indulge like the Tarantino post Pulp Fiction in his idiosyncrasies to the point of excess, i spoke too late i can’t but help feeling, having watched his latest.Mercury is a silent film in terms of spoken dialogues and if the title card is to be believed, an ode to silent films from Harishchandra to Pushpak. Harischandra maybe, Pushpak, No.That’s overreaching, i have to say considering the results and the tactics that the writer-director has used to justify the lack of diaogue here.
Mercury is Mercury because it’s based on the mercury poisoning tragedy unearthed in Kodaikanal, caused by the dumping of toxic waste by the Unilever thermometer factory which ultimately led to the shutdown of the factory in 2001.Apart from the facts that a major part of the movie is set in a rundown thermometer factory and the main protagonists being presented as victims of the poisoning which rendered them mute and deaf, the movie does little to explore this instance of gross corporate irresponsibility and its aftermath.It is indeed a well made movie in terms of production values but personally the movie felt more inspired by the movie Don’t Breathe than the Kodaikanal tragedy.Of course Karthik Subbaraj was never one without original ideas ,but it’s perfectly alright to be inspired once in a while too.The movie had me thinking of The Walking Dead at one point, but that’s just me i guess.
True to the tradition of horror movies, here too a bunch of youngsters meeting together and celebrating ends up paying, for enjoying the little pleasures of life.Though there is no actual explanation for the events that unfold on the screen, Subbaraj does get it right when it comes to the execution but one can’t but help feeling that he was trying too hard to get his cast down to the factory so that he could shift gears into the thriller mode because almost all of the movie is about the cat and mouse game between the killer played by Prabhu Deva and the five friends inside the factory.The communication between the five disabled characters is almost reduced to a pantomime session, which is quite surprising, given the skils and attention to detail Subbaraj displayed in his earlier films and the climax had me wondering if Subbaraj had handed over the reins to Mysskin.