'Merry Christmas' review: Experimental, not overwhelming

Kaif deftly uses her eyes and expressions to convey the most intrinsic emotions


Who would've ever thought that Katrina Kaif and Vijay Sethupathi would make for a charming pair and sizzle the screen with their absolutely riveting performance? Merry Christmas enthrals us by deftly exploiting the potential of the two actors and giving us a gripping noirish tale in which the journey is more exciting than the climax. 

Kaif deftly uses her eyes and expressions to convey the most intrinsic emotions and her body language is beautifully captured to portray a beautiful woman who knows exactly what she's doing and where she's heading. The way her character develops steadily, almost rhythmically, from that of a gorgeous and vulnerable single mom to an intensely hurt and revengeful wife, is noteworthy. 

Sethupathi's character offers well-measured restraint as he goes about emoting pain, grief and betrayal with a seamless ease that is just so him. There's something compelling about the chemistry between the two that keeps you hooked, you just want to see more and more of the two — stealing glances, exchanging witty one-liners, and more, but sadly, the spark between the two just seems to be fading away as we near the end of the film. As individuals, neither of the two come across as flamboyant or sensuous; they depict simplicity and a relatability that makes their act come so close to reality as if they're both simply being themselves.

This is a delectable tale of a charming woman (Katrina Kaif as Maria) and a stranger (Vijay Setupathi as Albert) on Christmas Eve, based on the popular French writer Frederic Dard’s novel Bird In A Cage. The backdrop of Bombay of the 90s evokes nostalgia, with its ticket vending machines, cinema tickets that came with a photo of Rajesh Khanna, red and black postboxes dotting the neighbourhood and more; but the mood and tone of the film depicts deception, death and darkness. There is plenty of food for thought on offer with some cleverly written dialogues and meaningful lyrics accompanied with soul-soothing music, that is contextual and helps take the story forward.  

The first half handholds one into the second and builds up the anticipation for something really solid coming up. But, the bubble bursts soon after. This film neither shocks you nor provides you with the thrill factor that Sriram Raghavan was known for, especially with movies like 'Ek Hasina Thi' and 'Andhadhun.' The end is cerebral but abrupt, one remains hopeful for something that challenges the mind and tickles one's intelligence. Sadly, that does not happen. 

Actors Radhika Apte, Sanjay Kapoor, Tinnu Anand, Vinay Pathak, Ashwini Kalsekar and Pratima Kazmi lend great support to this dark, murder mystery universe. Given that I went for this Raghavan film expecting an overtly mind-boggling climax, which could make me jump out of my seat, I was a bit disappointed. It's out-of-the-box and experimental, but not overwhelming. 

Movie: Merry Christmas
Cast: Katrina Kaif, Vijay Sethupathi, Radhika Apte
Director: Sriram Raghavan
Rating: 3/5

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