By Troy Ribeiro
Film: "Mercury"; Director: Karthik Subbaraj; Cast: Prabhu Deva, Sananth, Deepak Paramesh, Shashank Purushotham, Anish Padmanabhan, Indhuja, Gajaraj, Remya Nambeesan; Rating: **
Designed to speak about the horrors of corporate exploitation, industrial wastes and accidents, director Karthik Subbaraj's latest gambit "Mercury" is a silent thriller which begins with a slate that pays homage to all the silent films right from, "Raja Harishchandra" to "Pushpak". It then claims, "Silence is the most powerful scream". Obviously, expectations rise.
Set in a rural ghost town affected by mercury poisoning due to a corporate blunder, the story revolves around five mute friends (four male and one female) who on a night out celebrating the birthday of the female friend, stumble upon a dead body, essayed by the ace dancer Prabhudheva. Horrified and despite disposing off the corpse, how the dead man haunts the five friends, forms the crux of the tale.
The performances like in all silent films are exaggerated and over-the-top. But what actually keeps you glued to your seat is the cat-and-mouse chase between the mute protagonists and the blind antagonist.
While the premise elevates the expectations, the blaring background score from the first frame itself, deflates the whole purpose of the silent aspect. What further muddles the film is the cross-breeding of the genres - social drama with horror.
Though the film has a social message, the plot, treated like a horror film is one dimensional and weak. It fluctuates with strong intensity. What starts off on an intriguing note only gets convoluted and corny as the film progresses. The entire proceedings take place over one night, but the night seems stretched beyond the usual, with fatigue setting in. Also, some of the scenes seem to be stereotyped and amateurishly mounted with a few thrilling moments that lack the fear factor.
The first half meanders aimlessly and the second half though compact and packed with action, seems ridiculous with all absurdities. But the wrinkles do get ironed out during the denouement.
The cinematography by S. Tirru keeps you engaged with all the dramatic lighting and angles. On the other hand, the background score unlike the silent films of yore, is too loud. It overkills you with the noise.
Overall, to appreciate any good piece of art, one needs to ruminate to find a meaning in its composition. Despite not breaking any barriers, "Mercury" offers a lot to ruminate about, not in an organic manner but a forced one.