In his promotional interview with Baradwaj Rangan, Lokesh Kanagaraj was asked whether Master will be a different Vijay movie as Lokesh’s previous projects had a very crafty nature. He replied with a 50-50 answer saying he can’t ignore the fans’ demands, and within that framework, he has tried to make Master a movie of his own. But when you look at Master in its entirety, it’s more of a 20-80 movie. The Lokesh Kanagaraj part is 20, and the rest is pleasing the fans of both stars in an extremely usual story with a certain level of exaggeration I wasn’t expecting from Lokesh.
JD is the central protagonist here. He is a professor who is loved by the college students, and the management hates him. He gets drunk after 6 o’clock and is more like a rowdy teacher. The management plots against him by making him the in-charge of the college elections and certain unfortunate events post the election forces him to leave the college. And he is now assigned with a new job in a juvenile jail. Things that unfold after his arrival in that place is what we get to see in Master.
In the above paragraph, I have talked about JD’s life as a professor. The disappointing thing about the story of Master is that the whole college track is something you can remove at the editing table. If you start the movie with Vijay Sethupathi’s back story and Vijay’s entry to the Juvenile center, Master would have been a crispier action thriller. After initial moments of self-referential jokes, the film slowly loses its grip. One can see Lokesh Kanagaraj constantly fighting with the typical elements in the so-called mass masala format.
The introduction of Bhavani, the very first meeting of JD and Bhavani, JD’s reaction in some of the action sequences, etc., made me feel that Lokesh Kanagaraj is someone who wants to reduce the exaggeration in blockbuster movies. But when the same guy designs a bow and arrow set-piece towards the end, I found it very baffling. Even in Kaithi, such issues were there; the lorry action sequence and the number of stabs Karthi managed to withstand, etc., were a bit problematic. But the craft was evident, and the preach was less. Here Lokesh is creating a Vijay movie rather than a Lokesh Kanagaraj movie with a superstar. An introduction song is there, multiple fights are there, dialogues about politics is there, a love track is there. Additionally, he has the burden of making his hero and villain equally charming. By the time the movie entered the real battle between JD and Bhavani, which happens almost after two and half hours, I was exhausted, and seeing Andrea and Vijay topple trucks with bow and arrow wasn’t giving me any relief.
Vijay is seen in a relatively different avatar, at least in the first half of the movie. The kind of eccentricity he shows while doing comedy was not there, and to be honest, it would give you some hope. But as the story progressed and the quintessential realization hits the hero, he became the usual Vijay, and even the tale became pretty routine. Vijay Sethupathi, on the other hand, was acting with super ease. He manages to make Bhavani intimidating and incredibly sarcastic at the same time. Bhavani’s dialogues and philosophies made me feel that a 100% Lokesh Kanagaraj movie would have had a similar quirkiness. Malavika Mohanan may not be your usual eye candy heroine, but her character wasn’t really an irreplaceable one. Similar was the case with Andrea as well. Arjun Das is perhaps the only actor who got a better role in terms of screen space along with some of the child actors in the movie.
Sathyan Sooryan’s cinematography does have the style element, which is essential for a movie like Master. They have used different color tones for different phases in the story. Anirudh’s tracks are peppy and fun, and in the first half, even the movie enjoys the energy given to it by the songs. But by the time the Kutti Story track appears, the music feels a bit too excessive, and it felt like I heard way too many songs in the second half of the movie.
Master has its moments for sure. But in a movie that runs for almost 3 hours and has many usual and exaggerated stuff, those moments were not at all enough. As a cinephile, those moments gave me a sense of assurance that Lokesh Kanagaraj can reconstruct the festival movie template; unfortunately, Master is not that movie.
As a cinephile, certain moments gave me a sense of assurance that Lokesh Kanagaraj can reconstruct the festival movie template; unfortunately, Master is not that movie.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended