Over the years, Tamil cinema has seen its fair share of crime thrillers, but for me, none are more chilling than those centred on institutional crimes, especially medical negligence. The 2002 film Ramana can be credited as being a game-changer that influenced how a lot of us saw multi-speciality hospitals. We have since seen a bunch of medical crime-based films, which dealt with everything from organ trafficking to in-vitro fertilisation. Joining this ever-growing list of films is SA Baskaran’s debut attempt, Mei.
Mei does begin on a promising note. A woman is kidnapped. The police are ineffective. An anguished father’s trust in the justice system is being tested. Random people join together to fight against the powerful. If you have watched enough films in this genre, you know what happened to her. The fact that she works in a hospital makes you join the dots pretty early in the movie. While there are a lot of twists and reveals in this film, it is considerably easy to figure them out. When the proceedings of a thriller aren’t quite unpredictable, it is up to the performances to hold your attention, and that is where Mei goes down a rabbit hole.
Uttara (Aishwarya Rajesh), a medical representative, finds herself caught in an unholy nexus between certain corrupt cops and unscrupulous doctors, along with Dr Abhinav Chandran (debutant Nicky Sundaram). Aishwarya, who joins forces with an extremely effective Charle, to find his missing daughter, is wasted in a role that doesn’t offer enough scope. It is equally worrisome that her feistiness, seen in a couple of scenes in the first half, is nowhere to be seen later, as she turns into a typical ‘propel-the-hero’ heroine in the latter half. Nicky definitely looks the part of an NRI doctor, who is perennially confused about the idiosyncrasies of his hometown. The humour in this film is mostly made at the expense of Abhinav’s innocence, and these scenes fall flat. As long as the role requires him to be perplexed, Nicky is gold; otherwise, apart from a couple of well-choreographed action sequences, there is a long way to go for the actor.
While Kishore effortlessly manoeuvres through his role as a conflicted cop, Ajay Ghosh hams it up as his subordinate, who is on the opposite end of the morality spectrum. Except for a couple of brilliantly enacted scenes involving Charle and Kishore, there are no standout scenes, and this is quite a dampener.
To be honest, Mei’s plot, which revolves around illegal activities under the garb of social welfare, is disturbing, considering how easily it can be replicated in real life. Irrespective of how the overall film is, most medical thrillers widen the trust gap between doctors and patients. To the writer’s credit, the usage of medical professionals as both the protagonists and antagonists helps balance out the negativity that stems from the happenings on screen. It also makes us not question the ease with which things fall in place for Abhinav and his team, as they clear their names and bring the wrongdoers to justice. However, there is a huge difference between liking a film, and just not minding the film, and sharper writing would surely have helped in crossing over.
Music director Prithvi Kumar, who makes his debut in Mei, has done a decent job with a couple of melodies, namely Maalaiye and Kaatre Silamurai, which are instantly hummable. However, the background score is inconsistent.
One of the oft-used conclusions drawn about a middling movie is that it has its heart in the right place. Unfortunately, for Mei, a film based on organ trafficking, I can’t quite say that.
Director: SA Baskaran
Cast: Aishwarya Rajesh, Nicky Sundaram, Kishore
Rating: 2 stars