Amidst lavish action movies and formulaic sequels and remakes, there’s a Sriram Raghavan film that serves as a timely reminder that exceptional cinema exists in the quiet moments between lines and that unusual duos can achieve amazing things on the big screen. In “Merry Christmas,” Vijay Sethupathi plays Katrina Kaif’s opposite in a delectable whodunit that builds to a sizzling climax over time.
Raghavan has always had excellent technique and execution. His movies can be carefully examined and dissected to reveal chapters on how to compose a standout scene. “Merry Christmas” is a thriller, but not just any old thriller.
The plot revolves around the unintentional encounter of two strangers, Albert (Vijay) and Maria (Katrina Kaif), who become entangled in a web of bad luck. When a Sriram Raghavan film is involved, you know you are in for a wild ride, and “Merry Christmas” does not let you down. It keeps you guessing and waiting for Albert and Maria’s next move, making you feel on the edge of your seat.
You will be disappointed if you go in expecting a “Andhadhun” because “Merry Christmas” is not comparable to the director’s earlier work. The main problem with the movie is how slowly it moves and how long it takes for the action to begin. Long pauses, gorgeous shots of Bombay in the 1980s, and the interiors of an enigmatic house make up the first half of the film. Raghavan doesn’t feel pressure to pace his screenplay quickly.
The film’s strong second half is what makes it work, drawing you in with Maria and Albert’s eerie waltz. Sethupathi is a pleasure to watch; his effortless one-liners and endearing charm fill every frame. In one particular scene, his facial expressions alone garnered applause; no words were needed. Katrina Kaif yields to Raghavan’s vision, taking his cues as she goes. You can be sure that this performance will dispel any stereotypes you may have about the “hard-working” actress.
In his brief but powerful cameo, Sanjay Kapoor, Vinay Pathak, and Ashwini Kalsekar all make an impression. The main supporting elements of the movie, aside from its two leading actors, are the background music and camera work. They both effortlessly complement one another to create this intriguing and mysterious world. One of the movie’s main highlights is the ending and the Easter eggs that lead up to it. I can assure you that when the movie enters its post-credit scenes, your patience will be greatly rewarded.
“Merry Christmas” is a fantastic way to kick off 2024 and a nice diversion from the monotonous, custom-made movies. The combination of Vijay Sethupathi and Katrina Kaif is what really makes the movie a winner.
It’s 3.5 out of 5 stars for ‘Merry Christmas’.