Master Review & Rating
Master Review: Vijay And Sethupathi Shine In Vera Level Vijay Mass Fest
With all the festive eateries safe in our tummies and roaming around with the near and dear in a great mood, what better way is there than to go visit a theatre and watch a mass film. And if that mass film stars either superstar Rajinikanth or the man in unprecedented form, Thalapathy Vijay - the entertainment is unlimited and why wait? Get ready and Whistle Podu!
So, just like in the case of Karthik Subbaraj in 2019, Lokesh Kanagaraj is directing a mass star whose craze and image are at the peak or well beyond the reach of the younger generation genre filmmakers. And just like Karthik Subbaraj before him, Lokesh Kanagaraj too took a familiar safe template and used his creativity to enhance it than reinventing the wheel.
Let’s just go back further in time - 22 years ago from Karthik’s journey with Rajinikanth and Petta. Flashback!
The year was 1997. Sachin Tendulkar was still India’s captain and lead batsman. Anil Kumble was the sole bowling match winner. Mega Star Chiranjeevi just made a proper comeback with Hitler first and then came the ultimate master class in the form of Master. Yes. Chiranjeevi acted in a film titled Master which was an ultimate musical hit and a commercial blockbuster (of course, not rewriting all records. As an aside, it was his next film which did it). That film too was directed by an Avantgarde filmmaker of the time - Suresh Krishna.
Similarities between Master and Petta are apparent. And now between Chiranjeevi Master and Vijay Master are inevitable. The template in all these films is a hero with a dark past or a defect. Chiranjeevi went to jail for 5 years for killing a man who killed his girlfriend. We all know Rajinikanth’s flashback in Petta. Here Vijay’s defect is excessive drinking and there’s a reason for it. Still he lectures his students on morality and all. Because...? He’s Thalapathy. And he has a duty to do so.
Thankfully, the flashback wasn’t focused on Vijay in Master. That was given to Vijay Sethupathi.
The story begins
As the storytelling wisdom goes a hero is as powerful as his villain allows him to be. Lokesh Kanagaraj damn well knows that it takes a fearsome antagonist to turn a protagonist into a hero.
This is where Bhavani comes into picture. For a huge mass hero like Vijay who enjoys godly status in Tamil Nadu, he needs an equally capable villain. Of mythical proportions. Bhavani is a product of juvenile crime. Or rather he’s made one juvenile criminal by some big shots - obviously by killing his family. If you remember Vijay Deenath Chauhan and the rest, it’s not my fault.
A man is a product of his surroundings and his psychology is determined by those situations he goes through in an impressionable age. Bhavani becomes a monster who uses his world to his benefit. As a man who was exploited as a juvenile criminal, he uses juveniles to rise in the game called life. It is the story of a protagonist of the 1980s. But he’s made a villain here as he’s been using juveniles as pawns to establish his criminal enterprise. Wrong. Very wrong. If you remember Vijay Antony’s Thimiru Pudhuchavan, once again it’s not my fault.
This is the best part of all this exercise called - Master. After a good 20 minutes of screen time, it’s time to introduce our hero Thalapathy Vijay as JD. John Durairaj. He does everything Vijay does in his films. Without leaving a single thing. By the way, as said earlier, he’s a professor in a college. After another 40 minutes of screen time establishing his heroism and antics for the sake of fans, it’s time to get back to story.
Fed up with his antics, he’s sent to handle a group of students who are in a juvenile home. Once there he obviously locks horns with Vijay Sethupathi’s Bhavani. And then we know what happens during the interval bang. And what happens in the end.
Writing and direction
Lokesh Kanagaraj is a highly innovative filmmaker to come by in recent times. His screenplays and narration techniques are obviously of very high quality. But here, he’s dominated by Vijay’s stardom and image. Cleverly, he used Vijay Sethupathi as the protagonist of the early portions of the film and spun a heart-wrenching tale of how criminals are created by the system/society. Then as a separate track introduced Vijay. Then we’re given a glimpse of what happens when these two persons clash.
Vijay is shown on the screen when someone in Sethupathy’s story prays for a saviour. Like in every mass hero intro. Once the film enters the template narration, Vijay takes control of the proceedings. That’s why Lokesh Kanagaraj clung to Sethupathi for a little bit of semblance. The villain’s part was in the control of Lokesh. That’s how he has ridden the hungry tiger called Vijay’s stardom and jumped from it and still remained intact. He has used several references from Vijay’s films which are sure to impress or irritate the audience based on how much they like Vijay and his films.
Vijay being Vijay did what’s expected of him. He defies his increasing age (with good doses of Make-up and Styling obviously) and dances with ease. His languid dialogue delivery is still fun to watch. His swag is sure to inspire you to take things easy. At least, that’s a good thing.
If it’s not a Vijay movie and is not marketed as such, it’d well have been a Vijay Sethupathi film. He could have been the protagonist. He is the lifeline of the film - cruelty personified. His powerful villainy certainly elevated Vijay’s heroism to another level unlike it has been in his recent films. The climactic punch got benefited from this.
Malavika Mohanan has a memorably anonymous turn as the heroine of he movie. She’s beautiful. That’s what she surely wanted from this film. And got it. Recognition in Kollywood. Andrea Jeremiah has a good stunt sequence alongside Vijay and is fine. Rest of the actors whoever they are - are mere props for Vijay’s heroism. And they did well. When compared to the youth actors of Thimiru Pudhuchavan, the juvenile actors of Master pale. But did well enough to not spoil the film. The young actor who played Sethupathi’s younger version is terrific.
The cinematography by Sathyan Sooryan is first rate. He created the right atmosphere for the film’s world. And differentiated the personas of the two lead actors (Vijay and Sethupathi) with different colour palettes. The same cue is taken by Anirudh Ravi. He used two diverse theme musics for them. He also lifted or referenced the Kabaddi music from Vijay’s Ghilli (Tollywood superstar Mahesh’s Okkadu remake). The editing is pathetic. Runtime is overlong. But it’s a Vijay movie and we should bear this in mind.
The art department did a fantastic job. The juvenile home and college sets or other locales are perfectly chosen/created. The production values are uncompromisingly good. With an official budget of Rs. 135 crores, it is no wonder Vijay asked for full occupancy in the theatres despite the fears of a second wave.
Vijay Sethupathi and Lokesh Kanagaraj’s wise decision to cling to this man and letting Vijay run his own show makes this out and out Thalapathy film a watchable commercial masala entertainer. So, as the word count reaches 1200, let this reviewer take leave saying, Master’s gonna rule the box office and is a fun watch for people in a festive mood. Don’t expect more than that.
- Vijay Sethupathi
- The fact that Lokesh Kanagaraj was in full control in the scenes where Vijay Sethupathi appears on screen
- Obviously Thalapathy Vijay
- Anirudh Ravi’s music
- Okay, Tata
Khelo Rating: 3 out of 5