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Merku Thodarchi Malai & Lakshmi - Double Header Review

I always wanted to write a Double Header Review like my fellow writers Surya Komal aka KM and Nikitha Kashyap aka Wonder Woman, but couldn't find the right movie to do it. Finally, I got an opportunity and took time to write one for two Tamil movies which had their theatrical release weeks ago. The two films are ‘Merku Thodarchi Malai’ with entire newcomers as the cast and ‘Lakshmi’ starring Prabhu Deva as the lead.

‘Merku Thodarchi Malai’ had its screening in various film festivals and received huge appreciation for its screenplay and cinematography. ‘Lakshmi’ went on to become an average grosser at the box office with critics praising the choreography. So, let’s get into the details.

"Merku Thodarchi Malai" Overall Thoughts / My Rating - 4/5

I never dreamt about a film before or after watching it unless it is Superstar Rajnikanth’s movie or if the film creates a deep impact on me. ‘Merku Thodarchi Malai’ is one of the few films which didn’t let me sleep after watching it. And it the first time I decided that a film should feature in my list of “Top 5 Best Kollywood Movies” which I’ll be writing and publishing in the first week of every New Year. Now you get a clear idea about why the content of the movie moved me immensely. 

The film revolves around Rangasamy (Anthony), a labourer who toils at the spice plantations in the Western Ghats. He aims at buying a piece of land with his hard-earned money and earns a decent living instead of climbing the challenging terrain of the Ghats every day. This being the main story, the narrative of the film is structured in a way that it doesn’t focus singularly on the protagonist or the definite story, yet goes with the flow showing the life of people living on the Ghats region and their struggle to make ends meet. 

This is how the debutant director Lenin Bharathi struck me hard with his writing and filmmaking skills. The movie is high on emotions, throws light on the unheard-of struggles of people, capitalism, communism and the director has made justice to his writings by having all newcomers as the cast, who doesn’t look like trained artists yet the residents of the village and presented the film in a beautiful manner with the backing of breathtaking visuals captured by Theni Eshwar.  

‘Maestro’ Ilaiyaraaja limits his background score and let the visuals speak for it. The sound design of the film deserves a noteworthy mention as the movie had rich and varied sounds including the sounds of insects, rustling leaves and winds in the trees. Another laudable mention to the films dialogue writer Raasi Thangadurai as the dialogue was almost indistinguishable and felt similar to the native dialects of the people living around the mountains. 

Finally, “Merku Thodarchi Malai” is a one of a kind movie which shouldn’t be missed at any cost. Thanks to the director for making a non-commercial film, a moving tale and subtly delivering a message.

"Lakshmi" Overall Thoughts / My Rating – 2/5

Having the dance legend Prabhu Deva and making a musical dance film, the film should have some exceptional dance moves and the movie does have it. And sadly, it is the only thing which the movie has, if not for the largely predictable story and overly clichéd screenplay. 

Lakshmi (Ditya Bhande), a dance enthusiast want to prove her skills in the ‘PRIDE OF INDIA Jr.’ title in the National level dance competition against the wish of her single-mother Nandhini (Aishwarya Rajesh) who dislikes dancing. Lakshmi befriends Vijay Krishna (Prabhu Deva), a coffee shop owner for the sake of enrolling her in a dance academy, faking him as her father. The rest of the movie has foreseen twists and an unsurprising climax. 

As earlier said, leaving the remarkable dance from the kids in the movie, the film has nothing new, nothing to talk about and nothing to suggest to watch this movie except for the fact the film was refreshing in certain scenes (Thanks to Prabhu Deva). Director A.L. Vijay could have made the film a more interesting, yet fell prey to the old formula of making a movie of this genre.

-A Double Header Review by Nirmal Raj aka AK (@Nirmalraj2911)
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