Synopsis: When a zombie outbreak occurs in a hill station, a traffic cop takes on the responsibility of transporting a team of doctors to a city hospital so that they can find an antidote.
Review: Miruthan is the kind of film that induces the kind of hand-wringing that is reserved for something you cannot wholly appreciate but also cannot dismiss altogether. For every positive aspect that you try to talk about, there will a negative aspect that demands mention. Like, you want to praise the makers for trying something different — the first zombie film in Tamil cinema, in this case — but immediately, you are best with another thought: 'Did the first zombie film in Tamil have to be this clumsy and unexciting?'
The film is directed by Shakti Soundar Rajan, who seems to get his inspirations from the genre films in Hollywood and localises them so that they don't feel like blatant lifts. His first film, Naanayam was inspired from the heist films in Hollywood, while Naaigal Jaakirathai had its roots in the pet films. Here, he takes up the zombie genre, and uses it to spin a plot that also has local elements (thangachi sentiment, one-sided romance, and forced comedy).
The plot revolves around Karthik, a traffic cop whose life revolves around his kid sister, Vidya. Meanwhile, a chemical waste spill results in the infected people turning into zombies, who go after the live ones. When Renuka, the doctor he is in love with, requests Karthik to help get a team of doctors from Ooty to Coimbatore, where they hope to find a cure, he accepts it. But when they arrive in the city, it is already teeming with zombies...
The problem with Miruthan is that the execution doesn't match its ambition. The zombie scenes are unimaginatively staged (we mostly get video game-ish shootouts) the behaviour and body language of these creatures is inconsistent. In the scene that immediately follows the interval, we can even spot quite a few actors playing these zombies running as if they are going to get election freebies. As for those bitten, some turn into zombies within seconds while some are able to stay sane even for hours! And, strangely, most zombies keep a safe distance from the hero; even the ones that attack him come one by one (most of the time), just like our villains' henchmen. The shots in these scenes are mostly ramped up to make them seem thrilling, but they end up as amusing as watching a video at 2X speed.
You keep wishing Shakti Soundar Rajan had spent time laying out his set-up. All we get is one scene where a doctor explains to the cops about the contagion. Unfortunately, the director spends more time setting up the uninvolving and uninspiring romantic track — Karthik sees Renuka helping someone on the road and instantly falls in 'love' with her, and hopes to win her over even though she is about to marry another doctor. These initial scenes, along with the ones involving the sister as so routine, that we wish there was a forward option to move on to the zombie scenes.
Then, there are the stabs at humour that make the comedy tracks in the Kanchana films seem subtle. Sriman, a staple in those films, appears as a security guard who wets his pants on seeing the zombies, while the usually reliable Kaali Venkat is given the character of traffic cop who cannot shoot straight. We even get the mandatory 'Ennama Ippadi Pannreengalema' line.
But you have to hand it to Jayam Ravi, who acts his heart out that you can't help but root for his character. A few of the zombie portions work — the initial one involving a dog, the interval block when a hoard of zombies take over the van carrying the protagonists, and the climax, which has a superb set-up, at least on paper. Even though the execution is off, the haunting song that Imman provides for this moment, Mirutha Mirutha, hits us hard, and makes us care for the lead pair.