Starring Vijay, Vijay Sethupathi
Directed by Lokesh Kanagraj
It takes a Vijay to bring them back to the theatres. Covid be damned, Master has proven a monster blaster at the boxoffice in the South. Now two weeks later it comes to us on the streaming platform. But the fire-and-brimstone impact of a demi-god striding across the screen as he takes on the vile villains ,is lost at home.
To enjoy a Vijay starrer you have to watch it with his fans as they shriek their approval every time he breaks a bone or breaks into a dance. This time I have to admit the script supports the Tamil superstar’s iconic image with twists and turns that are frenetic but neither incoherent nor disjointed.
There is none of that disdain for rules of storytelling that we’ve seen in the other recent Vijaystarrers. On the contrary I’d say this is the superstar’s first genuine stab at a socio-political relevance.At one point Vijay smirks and says, “Some here may not like me. But there are millions out there who do,” drawing attention to his popularity that threatens to seep into politics.
Vijay plays JD(no idea what it stands for) a college lecturer hero-worshipped by his students even though he is notorious for his drinking habits.After 6 pm, he is out of his senses, boast his admiring fan-pupils speaking of him in folklore fashion, as though alcoholism was a form of meditation. Which if you are Vijay, it probably is.
It takes a Sethupathi to snap the hero out of his stupor. This lengthy never-dull screen-adrenaline’s biggest USP is Sethupathi as the cold-blooded brutal antagonist, a crimelord who uses children from a remand home to do his dirty deeds.
The plot structures itself as a spiraling combat between the two Vijays. But the film never feels like a pretext to showcase the two actors’ superstardom. There is a solid story to tell here.And director Lokesh Kangaraj isn’t willing to let go of a single moment to milk the enterainmentquotient. There is an exceedingly riveting chase sequence on a Delhi’s metro train early in the film.But the climactic pow-wow between the two Vijays looks a bit hurried. What comes in-between is a gala feast of fists and fast-paced action sequences punctuated with just the right dramatic pauses to instill that dual sense of thrills and emotions served up at dhoomtemperature.
While both the Vijays have a terrific time provoking each to a climactic release, Sethupathiwith his dark chilling villainy has an edge. Vijay on the other hand is not afraid to seem vulnerable on screen. His emotional breakdown after a tragic turn in the plot, is a welcome departure from the big-boys-don’t-cry brand of machismo propagated in our films since time immemorial.
The female characters, however, are abysmally under-represented. This was also true of the director’s previous Tamil film Kaithi. The cinematography by Sathtam Sooryan captures the tension of campus politics and the grime of the world of crime equally effectively. But the music by Anirudha Ravichander including a strange rap number titled ‘Kutty’s Song’ strains to be relevant. This, the film’s hero , never has try for.