Merku Thodarchi Malai: A Sneak Preview

Even before the movie can hit the big screen, upcoming movie Merku Thodarchi Malai has already won one award, with a promise of several more once it is on the big screens. Merku Thodarchi Malai meaning Western Ghats is the debut feature of writer and director Lenin Bharathi.

The production is headed by Vijay Sethupathi, with the cinematography taken over by Theni Easwar. The music has been produced by Ilayaraaja, who is a regarded as the greatest Indian music composer of all time especially in South Indian cinema. The cast of the films includes plenty of unknown faces, comprising of daily wage workers from the region. They include Antony, Gayathri Krishna, Abu Valayankulam, Arubala, Tamaraisaravanan Thevaramsornam, Kodangipattimokkathayi, Pallavarayanpattipandi, Vanaraj and Master Smith.

Merku Thodarchi Malai is based off over several true stories in the neighbouring locals who lived on the borders of Kerala and Tamilnadu. The movie depicts an artist’s noble effort to showcase the way of life and the constant relationship with nature that is slowly vanishing due to the progression of technology and modern lifestyle. It features and focuses on the life of a resident, Rangasamy, who is one of the many individuals who travels to the neighbouring spice plantation for survival, as he has no land to his name. Just as he and his wife have raised sufficient funds, an unexpected event causes them to lose their funds. Moreover, he is jailed along with several other innocent individuals, where on his return to his homeland, is forced to become a labourer on his own land.

But while Merku Thodarchi Malai’s storyline is fascinating, what is more captivating is the essence and details in Lenin Bharathi’s direction, especially focusing on the changing needs and developments sundered ties between the nature and farmers. With already a penned runway hit, ‘Aadhalal Kadhal Seiveer’ under his sleeve, he believes and insists on his philosophy that, ‘ no movie should only project magic, but also lives in its true hues for future generations’ reference’.

True to his words, Merku Thodarchi Malai not only showcases the interwoven lives of cardamom farmers and the Western Ghat range, but also glimpses of his past, as his own parents worked in the cardamom farms located in Thalayankaavu near Udubanchola, Kerala. Throughout the movie, you can catch glimpses of the good, bad and the ugly of Communist leaders, shrewd businessmen, the hazards of living in close contact with wild animals, benevolent cardamom farm owners, and even the mortal demands of working on the cardamom fields.

Merku Thodarchi Malai has so much more to offer, after all, it is a movie that bore fruit after a 4 year production. On its premier screening at International Film Festival of Kerala, his production received plenty of accolades from critics and movie buffs alike, evoking an emotion a strong sense of connection of the hardworking labourers, with the public.