The first hour goes by in conversations where their wrangled lives are wringed into patches of dialogues. The film’s scaffolding is entirely built on these conversations, explaining their pasts to each other — and us.
That its artifice is intentional. And yet, within that artifice you are not able to locate the pockets of sincerity — her love for her daughter, for example, never feels true, always on the brink of being exposed as a performance, too.
Raghavan takes his time establishing the geography of the place, of South Bombay — not Mumbai, this is pre-1996 — and their respective houses. Architecture plays an important role, because there is a dead body, and the location of the dead body in the apartment is of essence.
Just as the first hour feels cramped with irrelevant fixations, the second hour feels that much more efficient, slurping all those fixations into smoking guns — it is such a meticulously laid out world. It almost feels like the view was worth the trek.
Merry Christmas comes out of this love — for cinema, for the city — but love demands an easy rigour, too. It cannot expect itself to be celebrated by merely being. Neither can it expect a pat for being meticulous, thorough.
His cinephilia doesn’t demand the kind of needy attention, much like, say, a Vasan Bala film does. It is wholly mixed into his smoky vision, almost comically, charmingly.