Banners: Pen Studios, Stone Bench Films
Producers: Kaarthekeyan Santhanam, Jayantilal Gada (Pen)
Director: Karthik Subbaraj
Cast: Prabhu Deva, Sananth, Deepak, Shashank, Anish, Indhuja, Gajaraj, Ramya Nambeesan
Writer: Karthik Subbaraj
Music: Santhosh Narayanan
The movie opens at a school for differently-abled children. There is a celebration and everyone seems to be having a good time. The scene then shifts to a bungalow, where loud music is playing. Inside are five youngsters, four boys and a girl, partying and having a good time. But, the loud music brings the cops to their door. The kids manage to wriggle out of what could have been a messy situation.
One of the boys loves the girl and wants to express his feelings to her. His friends encourage him and he takes her for a ride in a car. The other three friends jump in with them and they drive through the plantations at night. During the car ride, they meet with an accident, which leads them to an abandoned mercury factory once owned by a company, Corporate Earth. Thus starts a cat-and-mouse chase of life and death. Mercury is a silent film, so it takes some time to settle into it as there is no dialogue. The entire narrative is driven only by the expressions and gestures of the characters and the background music. Considerable time is spent setting the premise of the story, which feels tedious and long-drawn. But, given the background of the characters and their limitations, it is necessary. And, you are quickly drawn into the story and forget that there is no dialogue, so much so that you can actually hear what the characters are saying in your head.
The background score and sound design play an important role in this movie. Santhosh Narayanan’s tunes capture the drama and emotion of every scene. From the subtlety of the violin to the roar of percussion instruments, his music carries you through the narrative. There are some places where it is a little jarring, and you crave a moment of silence, given that this is a silent film. But, overall, it is a great piece of work.
Mention must be made of Thirunavukkarasu, the cinematographer. Every frame of his adds to the eeriness of the story. His close-up shots are brilliant. Special mention must be made of the editing by Vivek Harshan and sound design by Kunal Rajan.
The writing by Karthik Subbaraj, in terms of the story, is probably his weakest to date but he manages to give us an engrossing screenplay. Yes, the plot is a bit flimsy but it has been executed well. For those unfamiliar with his genre of cinema, Mercury will be a unique experience. It is not a movie for the masses, but the elements of horror and the promise of a silent thriller have been fulfilled.
Performance-wise, Prabhu Deva’s name is on the poster and he proves that he is a force to reckon with. He comes on screen a few minutes before the end of the first half and manages to scare the living daylights out of you in every scene thereafter. If you were expecting him to break into a dance routine in true Prabhu Deva style, then you are in for a disappointment. But, if you are looking for dramatics and expressions, you are in for a treat.
He may be known for his dancing and comedy, but after Mercury, his acting histrionics will definitely be talked about. There are some close-up shots of his face, especially his eyes and even his fingers, and he has managed to emote with every part of his body. He becomes the face of danger and you definitely don’t want him to get you. The film is a treat for Prabhu Deva fans.
There are five young actors in this film who have worked very hard. They are very natural in their emotions, sincere in their efforts and manage to take us with them on their dangerous and life-altering journey. The chemistry and camaraderie between them does not seem forced and they genuinely look like a group of friends.
Special mention has to be made of the romantic couple in the story, Sananth and Indhuja. Whether their cute romance or their dramatic sequences, the duo manages to impress. Sananth, especially, is top class and he packs a punch. Not taking away anything from the remaining three actors, they are effective in their parts. Ramya Nambeesan has an interesting cameo in the film.
Verdict: A novel experiment but unlikely to succeed at the box office.