'Mercury': Fine thriller, but wafer-thin plot

'Mercury': Fine thriller, but wafer-thin plot

Fine thriller, but a wafer-thin plot

Rating: ***

Film: Mercury

Language: Kannada (Silent)

Director: Karthik Subbaraj

Cast: Prabhu Deva, Sananth Reddy, Deepak Paramesh, Shashank Purushotham, Anish Padmanabhan, Indhuja & Gajaraj

There are very few young directors in the country who have mastered the art of canning an intense scene as good as Karthik Subbaraj.

The jump-out-of-your-seat moment at the interval of Karthik's silent thriller Mercury is an example. The scene, which reveals the negative side of protagonist Prabhudeva, is a result of the three features of cinema coming together beautifully cinematography, music and performance.

Karthik, who gave three straight hits with Pizza, Jigarthanda and Iraivi, created flutters when he announced that his next venture was a silent film. In an era where technology has brought game-changing experiments, the concept of a silent film nearly went extinct in India. The last one in the category is Singeetam Srinivasa Rao's enjoyable black comedy Pushpaka Vimana thirty years back.

In Mercury, five friends (played by Sananth, Indhuja, Deepak Paramesh, Shashank Purushottam and Anish Padmanabhan), who are hearing and speech impaired, meet for a reunion at a hill station. Trouble unfolds one night when they find a man (Prabhudeva) dead on the road. The terrified friends bury the body but the next day, one from the group goes missing. The search for the missing friend lands them at a mercury plant.

After a sluggish 30-minute run, the film turns into a first-rate thriller thanks to the scenes inside the factory. Unlike the silly handling of the genre in other works, there is enough style here and the writing is smart. Cinematographer Thirru and music director Santosh Narayanan serve us pure magic.

The camera angles are daring and the lighting does justice to the mood as the group try to avoid the impending danger. Further, Mercury is a nice lesson on sound designing. Every movement and every reaction arrive with a unique sound.

The problem with Mercury is the wafer-thin story. Karthik's habit to dab into different genres is visible here. The film tries to convey the harm done to humans through factory leakages. While it is inspired by the Kodaikanal mercury poisoning incident in 2001, Mercury fails to strongly express the message as Karthik leaves it too late.

The intelligence with which scenes were staged in Pushpaka Vimana is lacking in Mercury. The need for dialogues was hardly felt in the Kamal Hassan starrer but Mercury has many scenes involving sign language which are hard to understand.

Prabhudeva's casting is a masterstroke. He scares us through his eyes. Mercury is yet another typical Karthik Subbaraj film. Lot to like and learn, many things to disagree and argue about but at heart, another interesting work of art.