Cast: Vijay, Vijay Sethupathi, Malavika Mohanan, Arjun Das, Andrea, Shanthnu, Gouri Kishan
Director: Lokesh Kanagaraj
Rating: 3 Moons
Vijay’s and Vijay Sethupathi’s Master brought the crowd to theatres on the auspicious Pongal festival. The wolf whistles, the hero entry, the introductory scene felt celebratory after the house arrest we have all been subjected to and Master elicits all this and much more from its audience. Lokesh Kanagaraj had promised a Vijay film which would be different from the films he has usually done, and he aptly delivers his promise. Master is probably the most fun, sensible and spectacular looking film Vijay has ever done. However, he also knows that to make his hero standout he needs a villain who is as prolific and larger-than-life as he is and here Lokesh has got Vijay Sethupathi leading the show.
Lokesh’s Master begins with establishing Sethupathi’s villainous avatar of Bhavani. Bhavani is a powerful antagonist who grows up in a juvenile home after being sent there by powerful men who had killed his family. The trials and tribulations at the juvenile home toughen him up and make him the monster that the system wanted to curb. Bhavani uses the juvenile miscreants for his own accord and builds his criminal enterprise, all inside the remand home.
This establishes a great scenario for our man Vijay as JD, which is short for John Durairaj, to enter and take the beast by the horns. Playing an unruly professor at a popular college in Chennai, Vijay is adored by students and abhorred by the college management for his alcoholism. He is a professor of psychology and teaches focus as a subject, something he himself does not embody. He preaches but doesn’t abide by his own rules and can be easily categorized as a hypocrite. JD doesn’t take himself too seriously and for once, Vijay is not seen solving problems on screen with fists and bloodbath and that in itself, makes Master a different film. Circumstances lead him to sign up for a teaching role in Bhavani’s den to save the children from a life of crime.
Vijay’s performance is top-notch and he dances like a dream. He is uber cool in the college scenes and also manages to make an impact when he shells out advice by the dozen. Vijay Sethupathi manages to steal the show. His casual demeanour elevates Bhavani’s cruelty and makes it that much more intense and horrific. The final confrontation between the two powerhouse performers makes the film reach its crescendo.
Lokesh Kanagaraj manages to pass the litmus test with Master. He brings two diverse visual tones for the hero and the villain- cool blue ones for Vijay and red fiery ones for Sethupathi. However, what he manages to portray impeccably is the similarities between the two principal characters. JD and Bhavani are two sides of the same coin, and are like parallel lines of a railway track. Lokesh manages to provide references to Vijay’s earlier films like a kabaddi scene set in the juvenile home that reminds of Ghilli. There is another pre-intermission scene that is a reference to the famous Thuppakki scene. Lokesh’s writing with his co-writers Rathna Kumar and Pon Parthibhan takes into account Vijay’s best moves and will prove to be a treat for the actor’s fans.
However, Master comes out to as a lip-service to fans that undermines the film’s impact. The film is overlong and needed to establish the reason behind JD’s excessive drinking. The supporting characters like Andrea, Shanthnu, Gouri Kishan and Sriman make more than fleeting appearances and are hardly significant to the plot. Even the female lead, Malavika Mohanan pales into comparison and does not have any meaty role.
Anirudh Ravichander’s foot-tapping music is the legacy Master will be remembered for. All in all, it is Vijay and Sethupathi’s charismatic performances that keep us rooting and engages the audience. If it’s possible for a film to entertain without being exemplary, then Master is a good example.
PeepingMoon.com gives Master 3 Moons.