Master, starring Vijay: Flaws and all, Lokesh Kanagaraj delivers a classy “mass” movie

Posted on January 13, 2021

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https://www.filmcompanion.in/reviews/tamil-review/master-movie-review-tamil-vijay-thalapathy-flaws-and-all-lokesh-kanagaraj-delivers-a-classy-mass-movie-vijay-sethupathi-baradwaj-rangan/

There’s one part of us waiting to see “A Lokesh Kanagaraj Film”. There’s another part of us waiting for “A Vijay Entertainer”. The film is a not-bad balance

Spoilers ahead…

Dear Lokesh Kanagaraj

I am a fan. I love your Tarantino-esque approach to cinema, where you take a bit from this film and a bit from that film and make it totally your own. As Godard said: It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to. In Maanagaram, you took the hyperlink format of narration and gave it a moral centre. You made a film where the anonymity of the characters (they weren’t even given names) mirrored the anonymity of a big city. In Kaithi, a film I am less a fan of than most people, you took the Hollywood “genre” thriller (like a Die Hard) and made a video game-like movie that moved from set piece to set piece. And now we have your most challenging work yet, Master. In a sense, it is easier to make a Maanagaram than a Master, because…

Because in a Maanagaram, you were new and your cast was (relatively) new and there were no expectations. Here, there’s one part of us that’s waiting to see “A Lokesh Kanagaraj Film”. There’s another part of us that’s waiting for “A Vijay Entertainer”. And I think it is to your credit that you have made something that’s more the former. I can’t say I loved Master without reservation (and I’ll get to the problem areas later), but after a long time — probably after Mohan Raja’s Velaikkaran — I got the sense of a “mass” movie that’s classy. For one, I have not seen Vijay being this vulnerable in ages. Post 6pm, the character (a college professor named JD) turns into an alcoholic. A father-figure actually tells him he is losing control. JD is the kind of guy the Vijay character in a usual Vijay movie would end up giving a “drinking is bad for you” lecture to.

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