Director: Sriram Raghavan
Cast: Vijay Sethupathi, Katrina Kaif
Merry Christmas is based on the events that take place on the eve of Christmas which involves the main protagonists, Vijay Sethupathi plays Albert and Katrina Kaif plays Maria. Albert is returning to his home after 5 years of being abroad, his mother has passed away but the house is filled with her memories and belongings. On the other hand, is Maria, a mother of a young girl and a baker. The two meet at a restaurant, and then coincidentally at a movie theatre. When Albert offers her help in carrying her daughter and the life-size teddy bear, they walk down to her apartment and what happens during the night forms the plot of this thriller-mystery movie.
Vijay Sethupathi is one of the finest actors of this time, he is effortless and excellent. It’s no surprise that his portrayal of Albert is above and beyond. His character is mysterious, we know very little of his past life, but it’s also evident that he is holding a dark secret inside him. He is soft-spoken and charming, funny and decent, you instantly like this guy, even though you know there is more than what meets the eye.
On the other hand Katrina Kaif gave one of the most nuanced performances in her career. She isn’t as effortless in her performance as he is, but acting is also reacting and she is pretty good at it. She is beautiful and she knows it, she is also keeping within herself a secret that we get to know as we progress into the plot.
The filmmaker, Sriram Raghavan gave us Andhadhun, a movie so amazing that anything when compared, seems to fall short. Andhadhun was hilarious, this genre of dark comedy took us all by surprise. Merry Christmas is also layered, there is mystery and thrill, but the occasional comical dialogue will elevate the experience of watching this film. Full credit to Vijay Sethupathi, his comic timing is faultless. But the layer of heartfelt emotion and the tears seem superficial, somehow the sorrow and sadness don’t make you feel things.
Coming to the story, one can say that it is a predictable whodunit, it’s not a big reveal that you didn’t see coming. But the beauty of the movie is in the details, the coincidences don’t seem forced, they seem organic. The last 45 minutes of the movie are bizarre, you know what has happened but you don’t know whether it happened the way you envisioned. If you are an avid watcher of this genre of film, then you know what we mean. For others, no spoilers here.
The story is about two flawed individuals, two individuals whose lives have nothing in common. They are mere strangers, but that’s what helps them open themselves up to each other. They have nothing to lose, Albert has no family left and Maria is in a toxic marriage. They take a chance on this night and live in the moment, truly. It’s quite magical to see them on screen together, the simple straightforward conversations, the innocence of meeting someone for the first time, the joy of behaving like younger versions of yourself. This is the beauty of a Sriram Raghavan film, more than the story, you are drawn in towards the characters in the film.
The music in the film needs a special mention, the background score really takes the moments in the film up a notch. Pritam, the music director plays with the background music making it seem like another character in the film.
It’s not like the movie isn’t without any faults, while the movie was nice, you are left with a sense of dissatisfaction. Is it because our expectations from the filmmaker are very high or is it because it’s a bilingual film, that neither does justice to Tamil nor Hindi entirely? There are cameos in the film that didn’t do much, Radhika Apte and Radhika Sarathkumar are uber-talented actresses, but they don’t have much to offer here.
The two halves of the movie are quite different in their treatment, the first half gives you a romantic vibe while the second half is a pure thriller with twists and turns. Watch it for a brilliant Vijay Sethupathi, who is a delight to watch on screen, and the palpable chemistry between him and Katrina Kaif in this joyride of a thriller movie.