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The Fault in Mercury: What Exactly Went Wrong with Karthik Subbharaj’s Experiment?

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The Long strike of our Tamil industry came to an end and the first film to make it after the strike  was director Karthik Subbaraj’s Mercury, which is a silent thriller.

Ok, apart from the mixed reviews the film received, the exact mindset of the audience who came out of the theatre was not stable at all. Is the movie a regular karthik subaaraj outing? Is it not good? Is it not worth at all? These were some of the questions that audience had while coming out of theatre as most of them were quite confused just like me. This film unlike the previous films of our karthik subbaraj deserves to be ranted.

Taking into account of Karthik Subbaraj’s previous works, Pizza and Jigarthanda worked very well with the audience. Iraivi on the other hand had mixed opinions, and few people found it boring and draggy. But honestly it was a good film for Tamil cinema. Audience obviously will expect a film from such a director to be convincing and to the notch. But was “mercury” satisfying? The answer that most of us would agree to will be no. It was not actually felt like a Karthik Subbaraj film. He is known for his characters, depth, feel and dialogues. Mercury when taken into account had nothing of this sort. Of course, I’m not talking about the dialogues in this silent film.

“The film was made to try out the genre”

The makers have done a great job by trying out a not so touched genre in here which has to be applauded. But, one cannot make a film just to try out a genre right? One might have to wonder if this story has the right elements to be complete as a story apart from the fact that it falls under the silent story category. This is where I’d say that the makers have completely got carried away. More than wondering about various elements to keep the story intact, the makers have concentrated on making it more silent. It has been promoted as a silent thriller and the initial teaser did give us that feel. But has the film thrilled us like Don’t breathe (2016)? No, Absolutely no. The film lacked the thrills that it deserved. The sole reason for it being is the makers were too much busy in making it a silent film.

Situations & events gotta be created to make it silent!

Before someone asks how have they concentrated in making the film silent, Let me point it out to you. First of all, all the 5 protagonists were deaf and dumb which for me completely was a hindrance in the first frame itself to continue watching the film! And then, the antagonist is not just blind, dumb again! Well, I’m not sure if this is the right kind of a treatment that a silent film should be given at this point of time that we are in. Way back, we had the pesum padam (1987) that had set benchmark for silent filmmakers. It had an  intelligent treatment to its characters and the story on why it was silent. But in mercury, it isn’t a great characterization of making someone dumb for it to be silent.

I watched one of Karthik Subbaraj’s interview recently where he had talked about how charlie chaplin’s films had subtitles in some of the major scenes and similarly did mercury. Well, subtitles aren’t a problem. Karthik had himself told that way back during the Chaplin times that, they did silent films because there weren’t enough sound recording equipments. In that case, when we have everything now, is it fair enough for someone to fix a genre as silent thriller and have characters abruptly sketched as deaf and dumb?

Leave don’t breathe (2016). The story doesn’t even comes a bit close to Pesum Padam (1987) It isn’t an intelligent plot in any way. If you take any silent film, there are situations created well enough so that the characters are forced to remain silent. Infact, its quite easy to create situations for a silent thriller when it is going to be in a single location (night). Something like Don’t breathe (2016) or A quiet place (2018) loosely. Making something like Pesum padam (1987) is tougher.

One requires inevitable characters!

When the characters of the film were dying one by one, none of us could actually feel for the characters. But why? Its cause we couldn’t in no way empathise with them. We couldn’t empathise because their performances were bad? I don’t think their performances were that bad. Yet again, its because there weren’t events that could make us empathise for them. “Why weren’t there events that were utmost necessary for the plot?” Because, the makers fell prey to the genre ‘silent’. What resulted was some weak characters on which none of us could invest.

The inverse-pizza formula!

Pizza (2012) was enjoyed by us because of that one twist that it had at that time. In pizza, there were all kinds of supernatural events that were happening on the screen and when we were in our guessing roles, there came a twist that completely changed our perspectives! Infact, the twist discarded all the illogical happenings. Now, what happens in Mercury (2018) is the inverse-Pizza formula. Almost, everyone were expecting a logical angle for prabhu deva’s characterisation right from the teasers. At least something like a zombie or someone affected by the mercury poisoning. In fact, I thought there could be twins in the interval (which would’ve been better actually). But, what we deserved was a ghost (the characterisation gave me nightmare). So, when we expect a logical side and we get a supernatural and not so logical angle to it, we don’t like it indeed.

However, leaving away the factors discussed above, If mercury at least had the one thing that most viewers want to experience in a thriller, the spine-chilling moments, it definitely would’ve been a good outing for us!

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