It has been five years since Murugan protected his family and villagers from any possible hazard, be it human or otherwise
Filmmaker Vysakh made Pulimurugan, a movie with a larger-than-life hero, at a time when the Malayalam film industry was increasingly leaning towards realistic movies. The massive action movie, with characters praising the hero at regular intervals, loud VFX and old-school techniques of playing to the gallery, might have catered more to the Telugu audience and yet the Mohanlal-starrer journeyed ahead, ending up as the first Malayalam movie to cross Rs 100 crore at the box office.
In retrospect, there’s a lot of factors that made the movie the juggernaut it was. The foremost element is the period of its release. When viewers were bombarded with realistic plots, Murugan offered them an escape. Unlike the Tamil or Telugu audience, Mollywood has not been familiar with the hero who manages to win all the time, does incredible stunts and defeats the enemy no matter how powerful the latter is. But when Pulimurugan brought the exemplary hero, who does massive stunts with a tiger, it was the first time they saw something like this in Malayalam. It pulled youngsters, elders and families to the theatres, and even special midnight shows were run to quench the massive number of audiences.
The persona of Murugan, the central character, and the Mollywood superstar who essayed him, too had a great role in the movie’s success. The makers have attributed many old-school techniques to Murugan, who can be seen making a request to his enemy by folding his hands in a scene when he so easily could have vanquished the villain. Unlike the impulsive hero, he attacks after everyone has believed his bluff. This worked surprisingly well and clicked instantly with the viewers, who were on the edge of their seats, mesmerised by the VFX used to portray the maneater. Murugan, who remained calm during most of the times, was unleashed during these stunts, which gained points for his characterisation.
Meanwhile, Mohanlal’s style and energy to perform the stunts despite his age and physique too was lauded. For Malayalis, who haven’t seen him doing the teeth-grinding stunts since Narasimham or Aaram Thampuran, it was a matter of excitement to see him in full swing again on-screen.
The collaboration of Shaji Kumar’s camera with the choreographer Peter Hein gave birth to the magnificent 12-minute action sequence in the climax, which certainly brought high cheers and claps to the theatres.
It is also an interesting assumption to make that the movie wouldn’t have been this hyped if it was released in a different era. But considering the box office run of Lucifer in 2019 and the universal acclaim of Drishyam 2, Mohanlal has proved that he is still capable of giving every actor a run for their money. And what’s more - he still has Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham waiting for release.