Director: SA Bhaskaran
Cast: Charle, Nicky Sundaram, Aishwarya Rajesh, Kishore
Actor Charle’s second innings in Tamil cinema is one of the most commendable and heart-warming developments. It’s not recent, the actor has been gradually building an enviable body of work in the last half a decade. They are also a far cry from his hit or miss comic turns through the 90s that he is more popular for. Now, Charle’s parts fit into that overused phrase called “character actor”, a role integral to the plot that carries a disproportionate amount of emotional heft, at least when compared to the screen time. Be it Anucharan’s Kirumi or Lokesh Kanagaraj’s Maanagaram, or one of his best performances in recent times – in Nelson Venkatesan’s Oru Naal Koothu – Charle has carved a niche for himself, and Tamil cinema is sure healthy enough to create space for an actor of his age to accomplish that.
In SA Bhaskaran’s Mei, Charle turns up again and the events of the film unroll from the events of his life. His daughter is missing, and he is the only parent. She left for home from the hospital – where she worked as a receptionist – late in the night only to never reach her destination. An assortment of players connected to the medical profession come into play in search of this woman and it is all coincidental at first. Uttara (Aishwarya Rajesh), a medical rep helps Charle recover from a minor road accident. Abhi (Nicky Sundaram in his debut) helps them by giving a lift in his car. It’s first not clear if Abhi – an Indian American – is a doctor but Abhi’s uncle owns a pharmacy where he befriends couple of fellow employees. The missing girl’s case falls on Inspector Muthu (Kishore) who is himself recovering from a surgery, and hospital visits and medicines are in his recent past.
This way, SA Bhaskaran creates a small world that’s in and around medicine and medical profession. It helps that people involved know a thing or two about medicine and therefore they can question a few lapses in the part of a hospital when bodies begin to pile up. It would have been great if around actors like Aishwarya Rajesh, Charle and Kishore, Bhaskaran had also cast an actor in the role of Abhi. Nicky Sundaram is tall and stiff like a flagpole, as if he is on a different planet with no atmosphere and therefore with no will to move. Aishwarya, Kishore and Charle are made to do the heavy lifting even though a chunk of important plot developments happens around Abhi. In some ways, his deer in headlights look throughout the film helps his character – he is a transplanted American in India, owing to some depressive episodes in his life and for that alone, he looks the part. But Mei needed a tighter lead and tighter direction. For a large part of the film, we don’t feel the tension around the case of missing persons and once we find out who the perpetrators are, they are not made to look menacing enough.
The kind of conspiracy Mei wants to focus on would depend on serpentine networks and involvement of people at every level of medical hierarchy. Mei unfortunately simplifies the process and focuses on only the top echelon. Where it needs to be cunning it is not cunning enough, and where it needs to be diligent in its investigation, it is not diligent enough. With a 112 minutes run-time, things are wrapped up too easily and too quickly. The conceit at the centre of Mei is a mafia that one must feel horrified at but at no point in the film do we feel that horrifying hysteria. That’s where this film with ample potential fails.
The Mei review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.