Merry Christmas review: A fascinating Santa gift from the auteur of Hindi noir cinema

Merry Christmas review: A fascinating Santa gift from the auteur of Hindi noir cinema

Merry Christmas review: A fascinating Santa gift from the auteur of Hindi noir cinema

What: Merry Christmas - Raat jitni Sangeen hogi, Subah utni Rangeen hogi, The tagline of Sriram Raghavan’s Merry Christmas insinuates a whale of things to have happened on one single night.

Merry Christmas movie synopsis

 “The night is darkest right before the dawn” – reads a weight check ticket carrying a pic of the retro superstar Rajesh Khanna, only to be reminded by Maria (Katrina Kaif) to her stranger friend, Albert (Vijay Sethupathi) whom she befriends at a restaurant. Albert walks her to her residence with her little girl Annie and a teddy, without knowing what’s in store for him.

We learn that Anna is speech impaired and Maria, who has been in a bad marriage with her infidel and drug-addict husband Jerome, runs a bakery in the same compound where she stays. The two strangers’ bond over whiskey and wine, dance, share their stories with each other and even step out for a ‘time-travel’ outing while Annie is asleep at home. Probably, it’s the ‘Yadhoom’ moment for Albert, the term coined by his uncle (Tinu Anand) for his home-made wine.


Merry Christmas movie review

While I won’t reveal what happens when they return to Maria’s home, I must say that my mind was busy cooking up stories and formulating interpretations around what Raghavan presented before the screen. That’s the beauty of his films – the auteur of neo-noir cinema keeps you thoroughly engrossed, and you keep looking for the minutest of details in his narrative.

Here he takes a detour from his favourite city Pune and implants his story, co-written by Arijit Biswas, Pooja Surti and Anukriti Pandey, in Mumbai, when it was Bombay. The exact year is not revealed, but I figured out it would be the early 90s from the music of Parinda playing inside the cinema hall. Amidst the intrigue cooking, I couldn’t stop admiring the production design that resonated with the vintage charm, the décor nestled inside the city’s flats and the colourful palate of striking colours.

Merry Christmas unfurls at a lethargic pace but harbours a meticulous screenplay (remember, the film is a bilingual, simultaneously shot in Hindi and Tamil) with a bit of backstories digging into Albert’s past and compelling you to connect the dots. As a nod to Raghavan’s unique style of relying on paraphernalia, paper swans, Japanese superstition and a little birdcage toy also form crucial nuggets in the interplay of suspense and mystery.  

It is natural that you expect a lot from the maker who gave us twisty and tenebrous tales like Andhadhun and Badlapur. Merry Christmas, however, doesn’t achieve that feat of ecstasy and awe but draws spirited performances from its protagonists. Both Katrina and Vijay elevate themselves from the standard written material and register a brilliant and pleasing chemistry.

Katrina, in one of the most surefooted performances in her career, emotes well and looks radiant. Even though she has only three costumes in the entire movie, her eyes display an array of expressions with a body language of seasoned actor. The supremely talented Sethupathi reveals an unmatched spontaneity and gets smart one-liners. He is funny and unpredictable and there is an inherent grace and dignity that shines on every character he plays. Sanjay Kapoor and Vinay Pathak and Pratibha Kannan do justice to their respective parts. It would be unfair to judge Radhika Apte and Ashwini Kalsekar or even Tinu Anand in their one scene appearances.

Merry Christmas – final words

At one point, Albert says to Maria, violence is sometimes better than sacrifice. I felt the same for Raghavan. He eschews violence and gore in Merry Christmas, but could have kept the level of tension and urgency high

Going with 3.5 stars out of 5 for Merry Christmas. Sad that I will have to wait for another five years for the master filmmaker’s next.


Rating : 3.5/5

Director :
Actress :

About Ahwaan Padhee

Ahwaan Padhee

Ahwaan Padhee, is an IT Techie/Business Consultant by profession and a film critic/cinephile by passion, is also associated with Radio Playback as well, loves writing and conducting movie quizzes. More By Ahwaan Padhee

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