Venkat Prabhu is getting increasingly flashy. With a vengeance. Chennai 28, in hindsight, is perhaps the only rustic (and fresh) movie in his repertoire, with honest, home-grown flavours. And ever since, he has been on a steady incline… This is show business after all; and Venkat Prabhu is not shy about reminding us about it with every passing project.
Saroja was a few rungs up the ladder from Chennai 28, built on a similar premise; but the difference was quite plain. The homes were no longer housing-board middle class, and his actors not mere gully cricketers. Here, it was cricket appreciation. A bunch of fans who travel to another city to watch a match. Of course, there was the cross wife, and they never really get to their destination; but Venkat Prabhu had graduated. And, how. Goa was glamorous. Mankatha, flamboyant. Biryani, a dizzy concoction of this and that. And now, Masss, which is just massy. Crowd-pleasingly so. That’s another thing about Venkat Prabhu. His movie titles are quite soulful. Even if the fare isn’t.
Suriya is Masilamani. He claims a giddy introduction number, replete with a number of equally giddy, half-naked women. Nayanthara is introduced here as well. No giddy women there. Or men. Just a holy interlude, a bevy of nuns, and a fully-clad Nayanthara singing praises of the lord.
She’s Manini. Naturally, Mundhinam Paarthene must happen. At least in verse. Then, there’s more.
That is a line in the movie, by the way.
In another instance, a sly dig at CV Kumar. In yet another, Suriya in his 7aam Arivu do. Then, that Premgi one-liner.
Venkat Prabhu persists with his nudges, forcing one in every half an hour. Big, mighty shoves.
Horror? Perhaps. Masilamani can pull off a heist with alarming simplicity. A few punches, some physics-defying stunts, and the gold is his. He can also talk to spirits. They swarm about him to realise their kadaisai aasai, but Masss wants as good as he gives. By now, he’s called Vidyullekha ‘Kung Fu Panda’, roughed up a number of men, wooed Manini with a few jokes, and has gotten himself nearly killed. The first time. Traditional Suriya stuff, with Premgi (as a mildly funny Jetli) to chip away at the ice. Yes, even with the ‘spirits’.
If Ajay Gnanamuthu had shut a whole colony within a dark apartment, Venkat Prabhu’s fare is all over the place. On the road, at a busy restaurant, atop a bridge, a bungalow, almost everywhere. Shot in broad daylight …and twilight. Suriya doubles up as a vengeful spirit, all dark suits, ponytail, fangs, and a grisly past.
He is also the saviour. The rescuer. And the holy, fatherly spirit.
Masss is quite becoming of director Hari. And this near three-hour fare does belong with him, save for the occasional reminder from Premgi, and those near-spoofs. The loud ‘action’, the louder screams, the pretty nurse (Nayanthara as Manini), the prettier cotton salwars… except, this is Venkat Prabhu come a long way. His PIN code is no longer 28.
My favourite line? When Parthiepan (as the cleavage-baring inspector) exclaims, quite nasally, amidst some really loud action – “Who are these inglourious basterds?”
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