Massu Engira Masilamani Review
Horror was for long been a neglected genre in Tamil cinema, with the few rare entries being marked by uninspiring scripts, poor production values and bad special effects, all of which contributed to a complete lack of genuine scares, but today, the scenario is not the same. Tamil Cinema is observing a rise in the number of horror films in the last 2 years and one can assert that horror films in Kollywood are coming of age with difference. Horror / ghost based content is the most sought after genre in Kollywood currently and cashing in on the current trend of horror in general, here comes ‘Massu’, an incredibly novel, spell-binding, goosebumps-inducing, genre convention bending, fun-filled fantasy-horror movie from director Venkat Prabhu and actor Suriya that I can throw my full support behind. Massu is not a stereotyped horror film which we traditionally see in tamil films but a spooky ‘kid friendly’, commercial ‘family entertainer’, that shall cater to all age groups of a family. A kind of theme that is unexplored in Tamil cinema to say the least, Massu is precisely not a horror movie but has a tinge of its element weaved into the storyline convincingly and hence the movie will be an eye-opener of sorts which satisfies to the fullest. Produced by Studio Green, director Venkat Prabhu and his team have emerged successful in coming out with an unpretentious entertainer, ably executed by a wonderful star cast. Massu has an impressive ensemble consisting of Suriya, Nayanthara, Pranitha, Premgi, Parthiban, Samuthirakani, Riyaz Khan, Vidyulekha and many others. Yuvan Shankar Raja has scored the music for this film and RD Rajasekar is the man behind the lens. All this added up to the already swelling expectations and one of the most anticipated films of the year. Does Masss satisfy on all levels? Lets go ahead.
Story : Massu is the story of a petty thief (Massilamani) who has the ability to see ghosts after a car accident. Using his powers, he makes ample money with his sly tricks. Then the movie shifts on to show how he meets different ghosts and helps them to fulfill their last wish. Interestingly, on one fine day, he ends up meeting his look alike Shakthi (Suriya) who is also a ghost. Now how & why do they meet and what connects them forms the crux of the story with interesting twists and turns. Having powers may sound corny, but how about something novel when the director inculcates various genres into one film with horror taking center stage? Massu sticks to the grammar of commercial genre, be it performances, photography, direction, scripting. The ‘VP’ stamp is escalated all over the film. The haunted houses and ghosts on the prowl always intrigue audience. Horror movies, by nature, require some suspension of disbelief. We need to buy into some things and accept certain happenings without questioning their plausibility. This is required of us in the case of Massu too.
First things first, one of the real heroes of the film is, the man at the helm, Venkat Prabhu, he has come up with a noteworthy horror film to surprise us. Venkat is one of those very rare directors who constantly strives to give a different and unique experience to his audience and does it in his style. This film is ample proof that we have in our midst, a man with genuine story-telling prowess, one with exceptional control over his craft and an ability to keep us engaged without any needless gimmicks. Venkat strikes with an absolutely new idea and to his eternal credit makes it work with finesse and flashiness. He knows how to evoke empathy and deep emotions and he uses dialogue to do this, thanks to co-dialogue writer Madhan Karky. Without the double entendres or the physical/verbal abuse that have come to characterize comedy these days, the movie makes us laugh heartily. The movie works mainly because it treads the line between horror and emotinal drama very well. While the underlying aspect may be a about a ghost taking revenge, the movie doesn’t trumpet itself as a horror movie and avoids resorting to the cheap thrills and scares we usually associate with the genre. In their place, the movie develops atmosphere, a sense of dread and good suspense. On the other side, Venkat Prabhu brings in numerous references to pop culture and other movies like, Jai from Engeyum Eppodhum who donates his organs which was a phenomenal touch. The Vaaranam Aayiram proposal was good fun. The rehash of Singam dialogue by ‘Shakthi’ character comes at the right juncture. Kaththi BGM played when the hero takes out a knife. Vishal’s act against piracy. Producer CV Kumar is being mention for being one of the most successful producers through the usage of “ghosts” in his films. “Evalavo Panitom, Idha Panamaatoma”, then a dialogue from Mankatha and so on. And he even brings back so many good memories of other Suriya’s past films. Perhaps only Venkat can think of such ideas!! 🙂
Though the film takes its own sweet time to move on, once it gathers momentum, there is no stopping till the end, where there is an exciting climax, as well as an anticlimax, in typical Venkat Prabhu style. Massu begins without much of a foundation. After setting up the premise, when things seem to be normal and when you expect them to proceed in a particular fashion, Venkat Prabhu at the least expected moment, throws a googly at you and from then onwards, the mystery begins. The first half travels in a path that is fairly engaging, although a tad slow. In fact, it is quite promising and there are many tangles. The intermission comes at an interesting point making you speculate in which direction Prabhu is going to take forward his story and you want to get back to your seats fast to see how he untangles them all. The second half turns out to be the more fun of the first half and you start wondering what the director’s intentions are. He takes us to a journey that cycles through the components of Comedy, Ghost, Revenge, Romance, Action, Fantasy and above all – Human Emotions! Hats Off to Venkat Prabhu and his script department for incorporating all the elements in the rights proportions.
Coming to the performances, its none other than Suriya who leads the pack with the show, remarkable performance. Suriya is known for performing exceptionally well in dual roles in the past and he repeats it again. Suriya as both Shakthi and Massilamani is stylish, menacing and electrifying, he seems to have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and has completely lived up to it. The effortless star, abundantly gifted Suriya invests so much sincerity in both the contrast characters of Massilamani and Shakthi, that you can’t take your eyes off him. Shakthi sporting a ponytail, is a rocker with his Ceylon Tamil accent that he gets it perfect. Nayanthara looks beautiful and classy, and for a change, her glamour image has not been exploited. Nayanthara’s magnetic chemistry with Suriya is still intact after Ghajini and Aadhavan, the little romance has worked out well. She comes across as a nurse but otherwise her role does not have much to say as her screen presence is less. While Samuthirakani and Parthiban walk away with much of the applause with their impressive roles, it is Premgi who is getting repetitive and boring but some how he still manages to entertain you. The rest of the cast like Pranitha, Vidyulekha, Sriman, Karunas, Riyaz Khan, Motta Rajendran and so others do their part perfectly.
Technically, Masss is well-constructed. Yuvan Shankar Raja comes up with a wonderful album that offers a lot of variety. The opening – ‘Therikkudhu Masss’ is the pick of the numbers with some colorful and energetic choreography at the start. ‘Poochandi’ song is a complete riot, the sets, the costumes are very different and lures to enjoy the whole song. ‘Piravi’ is wonderfully presented with heart warming emotions. Lovely placement! ‘Naan Aval Illai’ is the only song that probably serves as a speed-breaker in the second half. Yuvan Shankar Raja has comeback strongly with his electrifying backgroud score to help spike up Suriya’s heroism. The fashion in which Yuvan uses the Con Man and Masss theme music with riveting variations is pure genius and will earn claps for Suriya in the theatre. Suriya and RD Rajasekar already proved to be a glorious combo earlier through Kaakha Kaakha, Ghajini, and Sillinu Oru Kadhal, afresh rock. The visual experience created by cinematographer RD Rajasekar, is truly spectacular. He deserves full credit for bringing to life a beautiful new world, a horror place shrouded in mystery and filled with brilliant colours and scenes giving the story the right tone. Masss marks editor Praveen KL’s 50th film and his seamless editing enables smooth transitions between subplots. The running time of 2 hours and 30 minutes does not tire the audience even a bit. Coming to the VFX and CG, the team has worked hard on them but the end result doesn’t make it worthy due to mediocrity. The film has a lot of power-packed action sequences and one should appreciate the director and stunt choreographers for showing such incredulous scenes in a believable and enjoyable manner. Vasukhi Bhaskar needs a special mention, if the characters draw your attention with their charm, then credits to her for the lovely choice of clothing and costumes. Talking about art direction, sets are exquisitely constructed and look very original.
On the flip side, what goes against the movie is that, the team could not manage to tie up few loose ends, the script loop holes, few glitches here and there if not present, should have made the film more exciting. The second half could have been bit better had the core story was not treated with the tried and tested formula, in other words, the execution is slightly pedestrian. The amateurish CGI for the weird creatures in 1st half takes away some fun. Dialogues ain’t powerful when needed and could have made more sharper. But, these are just minor blips in an otherwise wholesome commercial treat.
On the whole, Masss is right there oozing with abundant energy and unlimited fun. Its a heady cocktail of action, suspense, fantasy / horror, romance, comedy and emotions. In short a kickass commercial entertainer from Venkat Prabhu. Kudos to Suriya for choosing quality and experimental films with varied stories from time to time that leaves an impression with the masses. Tickles the funny bone with tremendous technical brilliance and proves to be a roller coaster fun ride from Venkat Prabhu. VP’s understanding of entertainment has all the potential to work wonders with Tamil Cinema audiences, it is a SIXER, he hits it out of the park in style! M.A.S.S.S – ‘M’eticulously ‘A’stuted ‘S’olid’ ‘S’cripted’ ‘S’how’. Go watch Masss, a perfect summer treat for families, it will certainly be worth your time and money if you don’t mind overlooking the minor drawbacks.