Master Review: Style, Swag, Story – Vijay’s Film Has Everything Except Better Role For The Heroine

Master review: Thalapathy Vijay outperforms himself as JD in a story that was important to be told. Vijay Sethupathi joins him as the villain who can't be hated. But the story lacks a powerful role for the only woman in it - Malavika Mohanan as Charulatha.

Updated: January 29, 2021 2:41 PM IST

By Vineeta Kumar

Master Review: Style, Swag, Story - Vijay's Film Has Everything Except Better Role For The Heroine
A poster of Master (Photo Courtesy: Master Poster/ Edited by

Thalapathy Vijay and Vijay Sethupathi starrer Master has hit Amazon Prime today. The film is still running on the big screen and attracting a massive audience to theatres. And now we know why! The Lokesh Kanagaraj-directorial has got a story that was important to be told and a hero that the world needs. The film is not a cat-and-mouse chase like other massy entertainers end up being. It’s a hero vs villain story. The two men share a similar back story which is marred by the brutality of lives. While one let it overpower him and becomes an alcoholic, the other finds strength in it and becomes the dreaded Bhavani with an iron fist. What is striking, and totally to the credit of director Lokesh Kanagaraj, is how he makes the hero look flawed and the villain, perfect.

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In a usual world, Vijay is the ultimate hero with no flaws and absolute Superman-like qualities. It’s difficult to see him portraying an alcoholic, someone who’s comfortable in shedding tears on-screen or trying to wake up his conscience. By the virtue of his screen presence, he’s always a great man, who believes in roughing up baddies than the transformation of hearts. In Master, Vijay looks real, not like a usual fancy hero but a hero that the society needs. He does end up bashing the baddies and preaching what’s right, but not without going through a tough time himself. The one who hasn’t himself experienced the pain will never be able to make others realise the depth of it. The director makes Vijay’s JD go through shock and pain to make him realise the intensity and the necessity of the transformation.

The best part about Master is that it doesn’t underestimate its villain. Vijay’s JD is the hero in the story because he has got a tough villain to stand against. Bhavani is not your stylish villain who wears super expensive suits and get the work done in a snap of fingers. He’s as grungy as the men who work for him. A black lungi, a rotten shirt, injury marks all over the face, and a strange calm in eyes – Sethupathi’s Bhavani is a man who has emerged tougher from a tragedy. When he meets JD for the first time, the audience is left to gawk and wait for the day when the Ram and Ravana of the story will finally meet for the big clash. Is that clash worth all the wait? It seems so.

The grandeur of Master is less than the grandeur of previous Vijay starrers. But who’s complaining? Lokesh makes Vijay looks more vulnerable than ever. He’s more receptive, more aware of his shortcomings, and more comfortable with expressing the weak side. In one scene, when JD tears up to realise how he could have saved the two innocent lives, the camera doesn’t follow any rule. It simply goes as close as possible to show the intensity and the heartache. The Vijay we see in that frame is the Vijay we are not used to seeing on-screen – all helpless, and confused.

Despite all its amazingness, Master lacks in giving a defined character to its leading woman. Malavika Mohanan, who plays the role of Charu, acts as the driver behind pushing JD in decimating the entire power-exploitation at the juvenile prison, and yet the story doesn’t do justice to her. The only aspect that’s usually given to a heroine in a story – the romance – even that seems missing. Malavika’s performance in the scene where she’s picked by her hair while goons are chasing her for the camera is striking, but that’s about it. There’s nothing much for her – no scenes to justify her existence in the story or her infatuation for JD.

Master makes sure that the audience leaves with a thought in mind and without missing Vijay’s star presence. It has kids that provide the right amount of entertainment at the right time in the story. It has a villain who possesses hero-like qualities. In Bollywood movies, anyone with that kind of a back-story usually grows up to be the hero, not the villain. But, in Master, while you pat JD’s back everytime he does something heroic, you don’t completely hate Bhavani when he kills the ones more powerful than him. If a better role was written for the only woman in the story, this would have been a winner in all aspects. Until then, Master remains half-baked glory… because if Lokesh Kanagaraj can make Vijay look more believable, he can very well explore better characters for the women of his films.

Stars: 3

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Published Date: January 29, 2021 2:07 PM IST

Updated Date: January 29, 2021 2:41 PM IST