Director: Venkat Prabhu Actors: Suriya, Nayantara, Pranitha, Premgi Amaren, Parthiban

Massu-Movie-Review

A big confusion- of course not in the film’s title “Masss” or “Massu” or “Massu engira Masilamani” but in discussing its positives and negatives. If one is to start with positives it’ll end in a jiffy. Starting with negatives is not always a healthy way. On the other hand, if the negatives are discussed later, it would still be one hell of a task to extend it beyond three paragraphs.

Strengths:
The comical scenes are the ones that work out really well, holding the film up, also helping you sit through the movie. Thanks to Premgi not being the only comedian, the presence of Karunas, Manobala, Brammanandam, Sreeman, Rajendran, Parthiban make it a lot more engaging affair. Also, the substance of the comedies being in the situation rather than depending on the performance of the comedian saves us from Premgi’s scenes once again.

And that is all…
The only remaining worthy aspect in the film is its storyline. Thank you, for not clinging on to the 1000-year old template- when it is a horror film, the protagonist has to get into a new house or bungalow only to find it is haunted and there you have got the rest of the film with the lead characters running and screaming around the house. The magic is also in the screenplay at times, as the film gradually creates a few knots and resolves those, surprising you with twists.

And that is all. “Massu” is just your experience of passing by every 15/20 miserable minutes with patience for one engaging moment. It is obviously a film with the sole intention of providing wholesome entertainment to the populist crowd. But do you actually see honest efforts from the filmmakers in that aspect, to provide a thoroughly engaging commercial film? In no scene can you clearly comprehend what is exactly happening inside, the position of the actors in the frame, things around them, the location of the scene. Then how do you understand what is happening in the film? No worries. We have dialogues to handle the situation. For example, if it is a scene where a girl removes a ring from her finger and places it on the palm of a man, she describes the act in words- “Indha ne kodutha modhiratha neye vachuko” (Here, take the ring back, the one you gave me.) As these dialogues are also doused with cliché, there is no hassle for you to understand the situation.

This careless attitude continues in stunts too- the greatest strength of a film with a revenging core is in its ability to engage the audience in the action scenes. However, though you have fight sequences every 20 minutes, those only turn out to be the usual “bang bang” fist fights, the ones you actually want to pass off quickly. The climax fight sequence takes us back to the 1960s. The hero meets all the villains and their accomplices in a place- like a huge cane garden, an abandoned car garage, a harbor with hundreds of containers, a conventional climax location in 80 years of Tamil cinema- he then plays and throws the goons like basketball, banging them on the ground, as they bounce back and travel horizontally in air. On another side, the comedians try miserably hard to fight with the goons comically, yes, we travel to the 1960s sans a time machine. Thank God Almighty, the moment we dread after that doesn’t happen- a policeman entering the scene with a gunshot to the sky, announcing “you are under arrest” to the villains and goons, and taking them away as they are tied up in a roll like a bundle of hay.

If I am being generous, Nayantara appears in 7 scenes. Yuvan manages to help us revisit ‘Mankatha’ and ‘Biriyani’ with the BGM. The title credits show it is cinematographer R.D.Rajasekar’s 25th film, Editor Praveen K.L’s 50th film. However all you can see is glitches everywhere. One wonders if Editor Praveen is the villain who never let us blend into the film, or the hero who managed to save a film that was made with a heedless attitude. You can see sudden insertions of close-ups of the ‘Sakthi’ character with animated backgrounds. The emotional scenes drench you in melodrama, with the ‘Vikraman’ effect. Everything follows a template- orphans have to wear soiled shirts sharing a food packet; if someone has to show gratitude they take a stiff position with a tilted head, folded hands and readymade tears; a hero has to do something contrasting and he wears a ‘safety pin’ on one ear. (Nowadays even superman wears his underwear inside). At times, you sit there puzzled whether this is another ‘spoof’ like the 2010 film Thamizh Padam.

With that one hell of an effort…
The word ‘Masss’ refers to the swarm of people. Venkat Prabhu knows the nerve of this herd- ‘Ennama ipdi panreengalema’, the Kaththi BGM, Rajendran, the popular Surya-Ajith dialogues, Manobala, Sreeman of ‘Kaanchana’ fame, the Mauka Mauka concept, the Sri Lankan Tamil- elements that will instantly induce the usual Tamil viewer’s emotions, leaving them in a state of craziness, screaming out ‘Masss..! Masss…!’ The makers could’ve concentrated for the least, in Surya’s Srilankan Tamil accent- he just speaks the colloquial accent adding the words ‘endu, sendu, kadhaika’ then and there as fillers. Venkat Prabhu, the director was known for his unique style of making grippingly engaging films out of thin air. This time, he has a solid story, deep content and he delivers a –you cannot even call it a feature film- ‘video mix’ of random mediocre scenes.
Also, Venkat Prabhu’s films stand out in the timing of the ending frame, stunning you in the moment. Who can forget the beach boys hitting the ball in the end of Chennai-28, Ajith saying ‘Game over’ in Mankatha, Karthi and the villain breaking out of the window in Biriyani? In Massu, it feels like watching a ‘Ramanarayanan film’ in the end. A filmmaker who managed to produce two cult movies ‘Chennai-28’ and ‘Goa’ without much star value, a filmmaker who managed to produce another cult film ‘Mankatha’ with so much heroism, one who served as an inspiration and a trendsetter, finding inspirations from Hari, Perarasu, K.V.Anand and Vikraman, in his latest movie. Now, how healthy is that?

This film is for…
If you are in for a typical ‘Tamil masala flick’, you’ll find satisfaction in places in “Massu”. You define commercial films as ones that are made with a few compromises. Watching a film that has made compromises even with the attributes of a commercial entertainer, if you are one who can make compromises in your demands, the film is for you. You may enjoy the comedy, few moments and references to cults of Tamil cinema, some shrewd connections in the screenplay, few creative concepts, but as a film, as a whole feature film, it is doubtful, it indeed depends on how generous you are in compromising your expectations of a quality commercial masala entertainer.

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About Author

Mahesh Raghavan

Mahesh Raghavan is a film buff and independent short filmmaker from Chennai. His interest for films of all genres and languages has grown over the years. One film a day is his thumb rule.

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