By now, it is a known fact that Master has taken a huge blockbuster start, what with over 35 crores coming in on its Pongal release. Given the fact that theatres are playing at 50% occupancy, this is bigger than any other blockbuster opening. The real game will begin now when the word of mouth will take over and neutral set of audiences will begin to venture theatres. While that is expected to be bountiful as well, I just wonder how much bigger blockbuster it could well have turned out to be, had the entire (near) three hour narrative of Master boasted of a rock solid narrative.
That’s because if one compares this with Vijay’s last few blockbusters Bohol, Mersal, Sarkar and Theri, this one falls short. These were the films that not just tried to say something but also ended up doing so in a much more effective manner, while entertaining right through the running duration from beginning till the end. In case of Master, the idea is noble (child criminal reformation), but then the narrative is not just overstretched but also interspersed with sequences that sometimes even end up boring you.
Case in point being deviations that came in when it comes to Vijay Sethupathi’s track. Once it is established that he is a ruthless criminal while running a gang of truck drivers, there is nothing new that is brought to the audiences. He meets people, threatens them, kills them with bare hands, and walks away with a hint of innocence in his eyes. Not quite repenting for his crimes, anyone from 8 to 80 year old is the same in his books.
When you are dealing with a criminal mind like his, you would expect the hero and the villain to come face to face much sooner. However, barring a dhamakedaar chat at the interval point, the first meeting of theirs is rather ‘thanda’ and post that too the usual ‘I am gonna kill you’ conversation ensues at the climax. Frankly, one would have expected fireworks, both at the meeting-of-the-two-powerful men and the dialoguebaazi level.
This isn’t all as the entire first half is just the premise that is set for the second half, which again pretty much starts afresh as a film on its own. From college politics, it is not reformation-center politics that follows which makes one wonder what was the real need of 60 odd minutes that were spent during the first half in the college campus. Other than the fact that it continues to establish Vijay’s heroics, hence catering to his mass fanbase, there is precious little that director Lokesh Kanagaraj offers.
In fact he seems to be in a hero worshipping mode as well since there are not just lengthy introductions of Vijay at every juncture (see, he can kick so well; see, he can dance so well; see, he can make you laugh so well), he even establishes him as a deti-God. So what if there is no real moral ground to show your ‘personality development’ professor to be perpetually drunk with blood shot eyes all the time. In comparison, Rajinikanth’s warden act in Petta was so very well laid out. Here, neither does the backstory hold any ‘dum’ nor does the cry of redemption make you drop a tear.
However, when the whole idea of making a film is to give the loyal audience their paisa vasool moments by means of ‘one action sequence every 15 minutes’ and ‘one emotional scene every 30 minutes’, then there is as much as one can do to design a film in a far crisper manner. No wonder, the leading lady (Malavika Mohanan) doesn’t quite mind taking a back seat even in her limited appearance while the experienced one, but second lead Andrea Jeremiah just shoots in the dark (well, literally) in the VFX heavy chase sequence that doesn’t quite cut ice.
To the film’s credit, it does have moments in there that are designed as ‘seeti taali’ affair. I am sure in the (50%) packed houses at Tamil Nadu, this must have resulted in a riotous atmosphere, compared to the 20% occupancy Gurgaon multiplex where I watched it with 100% Tamil audiences who did scream their lungs out at the introduction of their favourite superstar on the big screen, only to go quiet for the rest of the film.