Mercury movie cast: Prabhudheva, Remya Nambeesan, Sananth Reddy
Mercury movie director: Karthik Subbaraj
Mercury movie rating: 3.5 stars
Veteran filmmaker Singeetam Srinivasa Rao’s Pushpaka Vimana, starring Kamal Haasan, was the first film with no-dialogues to come out after the silent era in India came to end with Alam Ara in 1931. In Hollywood, French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius made The Artist (2012), a black-and-white silent film, which was a tribute to a bygone era.
Each scene and actions of the artistes remind the audience of the experiment Singeetam and Michel were doing with their respective films. The cleverness of director Karthik Subbaraj’s Mercury lies in successfully writing a script where the absence of dialogue feels very natural.
The leading characters of this film are deaf-mute, which solves a major challenge in the story for the director and allows him to just focus on building the tension into the script without having to worry about creating circumstances to justify why his characters are not using words to communicate.
Like Singeetam’s film, we also don’t get to know the names of the characters in Mercury. The film is set in the scenic landscapes of a hill-station, where mercury has poisoned the lives of its inhabitants. The subplot draws inspiration from the tragedy in Kodaikanal, which was exposed to mercury contamination by Hindustan Unilever in 2001.
The lead characters (played by Sananth Reddy, Deepak Paramesh, Anish Padman and Shashank) are also those among the victims who were affected by the mercury poisoning. After an alumni event, they celebrate their reunion. And Sananth Reddy’s character, who is in love with Indhuja’s character takes her for a drive in the night to profess his feelings for her. And his other friends tag along with the couple. Drunk on alcohol and happiness, an innocent prank they play turns fatal. Somebody dies. The efforts to cover up the crime drives all the five of them into the compound of now abandoned mercury factory, Corporate Earth.
And soon things go out of control. Before they could figure out what’s happening, one by one of them starts dying. The ghost played by Prabhudheva is full of rage. After watching hundreds of horror films, we think we know the reason behind why the ghost bumps off each one of them in the factory. But, we don’t. There is a twist in the end.
Once the story moves into Corporate Earth factory, composer Santhosh Narayanan and Kunal Rajan take control of the storytelling with music and sounds, respectively. The only way the survivors can keep their predator at bay is by maintaining a pin-drop silence. They must take every step with extreme care and caution. Santhosh effectively builds up the tension in the narration with his compositions. Almost every scene gradually builds up and hits the high note and suddenly drops to a dead silence, allowing Kunal Rajan to carefully design the sound of movements inside the factory that makes difference between life and death for the survivors.
Karthik’s plot also has a few gaps and he also uses the regular narrative techniques of the horror genre to create the moments of shock. However, the overall impact of the movie on a viewer is very effective, encouraging us to brush aside the shortcomings.
Mercury eventually melts down to the story of human sufferings caused due to corporate greed. And we do leave the theatre with a heavy heart, if not totally frightened by Prabhudheva’s thirst for vengeance. Everyone in this story is a victim.