Director: Shakti Soundar Rajan
Cast: Jayam Ravi, Lakshmi Menon
Shakti Soundar Rajan’s Miruthan, probably the first zombie adventure in Tamil, is by no means novel in the world of cinema. As early as 1932, Hollywood popularised Voodoo magic through this genre with the film White Zombie. Several others came in following decades including I Walked with a Zombie, The Plague of the Zombies and Night of the Living Dead.
Japan is better known in this genre; in fact roots of zombie movies can be traced back to the Edo and Meiji periods in which ghost stories were part of the folklore.
However, for an essentially Tamil-speaking population - most of which does not have access to Hollywood cinema, let alone Japanese fare - Miruthan could be an experience. Perhaps taking a cue from Japanese filmmakers who invariably infuse comical elements into their zombie dramas, Rajan has laced his movie with humour (mercifully not of the stupid variety I often see in Tamil cinema) and a hint of romance. So, if at all Miruthan attracts ticket-paying audiences, it will most likely be on the strength of its wit and love.
Watch Miruthan’s trailer here:
Otherwise, the film is a tired story with gory, hideous faces, glazed eyes and blood, not to mention a storyline that annoys. An accidental spill of radioactive material in Ooty leads to a dog turning feral, exhibiting symptoms of rabies (hydrophobia, etc). When the rabid animal bites a man, transforming him into a cannibalistic zombie, it sets off a chain of unimaginably gruesome events, stretching as far as Coimbatore. Dozens and dozens of men turn into zombies within hours, while a team of doctors try to develop a vaccine overnight (seriously?).
Enter young woman doctor (played by Lakshmi Menon) who collects samples from dead zombies in Ooty and tries to reach Coimbatore at the foothills to help the vaccine development. A traffic cop, Karthick (Jayam Ravi) who has secretly been in love with the doctor, tries to help her reach Coimbatore through the pack of blood-thirsty zombies.
Miruthan offers ample opportunities for our policeman to indulge in heroics -- shooting zombies dead as if he were Bond with a licence to kill. And Karthick never seems to run out of bullets with hundreds of them flying out of his pistol and rifle.
Replete with a dhoti-clad politician (who fancies that he has enough clout to even command zombies), a sidekick to the hero and a selfish fiance, Miruthan, like many Tamil movies, tries to pack too many sub-plots, cluttering the main narrative.
The use of ear-shattering sounds and sudden bursts of ghostly zombies on screen does little to add to the terror element. What an outdated technique. The cast salvages some of the film. Menon does present an above average performance as a medical professional who values life, even it happens to be a zombie. But Ravi, in all fairness, has little scope other than to play a hero in the traditional sense of the term -- knocking down zombies with his bare fists and/or pumping bullets into them. He appears bereft of emotion, except when his kid sister is in danger.
On a side note, Miruthan has been passed with an UA, despite the producers’ demand for U, a rating that would have given Rajan’s work an exemption from tax. But surely, Miruthan is NOT suitable for young children.