Merry Christmas Review

Merry Christmas

THE Review

Sriram Raghavan the director, the acclaimed master of Indian dark thrillers, steps back slightly from the breezy narrative pace set by Andhadhun. And treads a delicate line between slowness and urgency, intellectualism and provocation, classiness and jauntiness in Merry Christmas, an enigmatic film that grips your attention throughout.

While last year’s black comedy was inspired by a French short film called The Piano Tuner and took off in radically different directions. This dually-voiced Merry Christmas featuring Katrina Kaif and Vijay Sethupathi (one of the oddest onscreen couples ever to grace Hindi (and possibly Tamil) cinema) is a loose adaptation of Dard’s Gallic police procedural novel Le Monte-charge.

The French story’s title translates literally as “dumbwaiter”. In English it was known as Bird in a Cage. Both a freight elevator and a trapped avian are relevant analogies in the context of the tale. That Merry Christmas locates in the Christian community of 1980s Bombay.

In its literal sense, Merry Christmas is all about ups-and-downs for people as well as things. But even then this film remains breathtakingly flat. Sometimes inertia is so completely mesmerizing. Controlled momentum, even lack of it at times, is part of this movie’s design. Every cut made; every camera angle used; every bit of blocking ensures anticipation. And foreboding without giving away what lies around the bend.

The film starts with two mixer-grinders seen through split screens. One grinding chilli-lentils into maligai podi while another reduces pills to powder. Both hide something sinister. In fact when they became unmasked they revealed two aspects love gone awry through obsession. Could life itself be describe any better? It depends on how one takes it just like the case with the film’s two main characters depending on their taste.

It is a feature that abounds in stylistic, visual and musical touches that significantly contribute to maintaining the aura of mystery. Around this Christmas-eve ‘romance’ between a married-who-wishes-she-wasn’t mother of a precocious little girl (Pari Maheshwari Sharma). And an enigmatic stranger who returns after a long time to his Mumbai home.

As much as it probes deeply into such themes of love, loyalty and betrayal without any sentimentality or idealism. Merry Christmas is Hitchcockian in its unexpected twists and turns as well as Rohmerian in its moral exploration which is unrelenting and sharp.

Raghavan has co-written the screenplay along with Arijit Biswas, Pooja Ladha Surti (also the film’s editor), Anukriti Pandey. These scattered hints are more meaningful as events unfold within or outside one woman’s residence on top of a family-owned bakery supplying biscuits to schools.

Even when there is only talk happening on the screen, or stray glances being exchange between two strangers or just stretches of awkward silences are resort to in trying to penetrate the distance that exists between Maria (Katrina Kaif) and Albert (Vijay Sethupathi). The audience has so much to savour – and unpack – in this film that it does not for a moment feel either pretentious or unduly deliberate.

The attentive watcher is thus treated to a view of the two main characters’ Christmas merriment without having every detail spelt out. The residential interiors and the cityscapes are thrown into an atmosphere of magic by the director of photography Madhu Neelakandan. Who seems like everything in and about the frames he composes suggests that it is both festive and mysterious.

Katrina Kaif gives one of her best performances ever, portraying bewilderment with a touch of vulnerability concealed beneath occasional flashes of steely determination in a way that is highly minimalistic. On his part, Vijay Sethupathi plays a role that relies on his eyes and facial expressions. More than mere words to capture the tempest within him as well as around.

Merry Christmas is immersive ride within 1980s Hindi film soundscape while employing an evocative colour palette. That evokes confusion through loneliness and lost love – Maria and Albert have back stories before their journey. During the two-and-a-half hour film looking for some form salvation in their lives.

Maria asks Albert questions. In contrast, script poses questions to spectators – does violence really triumph over sacrifice? If seeking closure at the expense of someone you have been hurt by morally inferior to self-inflicted wounds? Can a short meeting between two people who never meet again be turn into something life-changing?

As they consume some drink at Maria’s place before setting out for a walk. Exchanging titbits meant to facilitate first contact between them. And also make certain things obvious for those watching them from outside. It serves only this purpose later; however, it combines revelation with obfuscation.

However long they are on screen, these minor characters don’t fade away. It is quite amazing how even an actor who has only one almost whispered line isn’t just peripheral character. So much so, he can be consider as representative of this films “point de vue.”

Starting with Tinnu Anand’s “neighbour uncle” who gives the prodigal Albert home-made wine on his return and stretching to a Sanjay Kapoor. One of those busy caterers as it should be expect for Christmas-eve – he was a “caterer” not an event manager. Because that term had not yet been absorbed by the urban dictionary – Merry Christmas ends at Vinay Pathak, Pratima Kannan and Ashwini Kalsekar who are known for their specific roles.

It is thrilling, intriguing, engrossing and gently provoking; in short, Merry Christmas is everything you would expect from a thriller. Even when it bemuses people it still mesmerizes them.

Watch free movies on Fmovies

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top