Merry Christmas Review: A Festive Jalebi

"Merry Christmas", directed by Sriram Raghavan, is an Indian thriller featuring Katrina Kaif and Vijay Sethupathi in key roles, filmed concurrently in Hindi and Tamil. The film follows two strangers whose chance encounter on a Christmas Eve takes a dramatic turn from romantic to nightmarish. Filled with unexpected twists, the storyline is shrouded in secrecy.

General Rating

In a nut-shell:

A Festive Jalebi

Merry Christmas Star Cast/ Actors: Katrina Kaif as Maria, Vijay Sethupathi as Albert, Ashwini Kalsekar as Inspector, Sanjay Kapoor, Radhika Apte, Tinnu Anand, Vinay Pathak and Pratima Kannan.

Merry Christmas Release Date: January 12, 2024

Merry Christmas Available On: Theatrical Release and (likely to be released on Netflix digital Platform)

Merry Christmas Released/ Available In Languages: Hindi, Tamil

Merry Christmas Runtime: 144 Minutes

Merry Christmas Critic Review:

The attraction is two-fold: a Sriram Raghavan thriller and an unusual main cast. Who’d have imagined Hindi cinema’s glamorous Katrina Kaif spending Christmas Eve with Tamil star Vijay Sethupathi?

Yet when they do, their chemistry is worth your popcorn and more.

‘To reveal more would be a crime’ goes beyond a tagline. Without disclosing a spoiler or two, how do you talk about what Maria (Katrina Kaif) and Albert (Vijay Sethupathi) do all night that amuses with its one-liners and piques your curiosity?

Albert has come home for the first time after his mother’s death, he’s on his lonesome ownsome, and kind neighbour (Tinnu Anand) invites him to come over for dinner. But Albert would rather go out on his own and get a whiff of the outdoor air this Christmas Eve.

Everything has a reason.

When Maria with her little daughter meets Albert accidentally and he goes up to have a drink with her at her apartment, you know Sriram is setting the scene for something that’s not quite right.

Music, whisky, dance, an exchange of stories and mild flirtation. But the feeling that crime’s lurking around the corner is unshakeable. Is it going to be Maria springing a nasty surprise or will it be Albert?

Ronnie (Sanjay Kapoor) with a bustling catering business walks in for some more naughty chemistry and ups the intrigue.

There’s no sleaze, no abuse but nothing’s straight. And the jalebi keeps encircling till the last scene.

Sriram with co-writers Pooja Ladha Surti, Arijit Biswas and Anukriti Pandey bases his thriller that spans one Christmas Eve on the novel Le Monte-Charge by Frederic Dard. The plot is thin, the slow unraveling is in the screenplay though the director takes a tad too long to get going.

But Santa’s gift is the freshness of an ambience that’s so much like a James Hadley Chase with an unconventional lead cast as the bonus.

Like Kareena Kapoor who held it all together as a single mom in Sujoy Ghosh’s Jaane Jaan, Katrina Kaif is everything Maria should be – pretty, lonely, secretive, and she’s in tiptop form in every shot. Easily one of her most wholesome performances. Like Sujoy, Sriram also tips his hat to Hindi movies, to Shakti Samanta and to retro music. Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, ‘Albert Pinto ko gussa kyun aata hai’ and ‘Jab andhera hota hai’ from Raja Rani are all present in a time period that Sriram refers to as ‘when Mumbai was called Bombay’.

Vijay Sethupathi is a complete delight, entirely credible whether he’s scheming or softening. Funny when he needs to be, especially in his well-dropped one-liners, and lovely even in an impromptu dance move or two. It’s wonderful to find him pair off so comfortably with Katrina. Sanjay Kapoor contributes to the general feeling of fun that’s not so upfront.

It wouldn’t be fair to say anything more except to add that Ashwini Kalsekar in a bikini-size role and veterans Tinnu Anand, Pratima Kannan, Radhika Apte and Vinay Pathak are all well cast, keeping up the mirth and crime tempo set by Maria and Albert.

If there is a letdown, it’s the music. Although there are a couple of situations with scope for a lingering score or at least a memorable beat, Pritam doesn’t send you home humming a single note.

Merry Christmas – Watch Or Not?: Though it takes a while to settle down, enough twists especially in the finale, leave you with talking points to discuss after the movie is over. So, I’d say, watch it.

Merry Christmas Review Score Rating: 3 out of 5

Merry Christmas Official Trailer:

Merry Christmas Official Trailer (Credit: Tips Films)

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A Festive JalebiMerry Christmas Review: A Festive Jalebi