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Review Tamil

Master review: Vijay shines in this entertaining albeit overlong star vehicle

Release Date: 13 Jan 2021 / Rated: U/A

Cinestaan Rating

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Haricharan Pudipeddi

Master is another feather in Lokesh Kanagaraj's cap even if the film unapologetically panders to Vijay’s fans.

Master is Lokesh Kanagaraj’s first stab at an out-and-out entertainer with one of Tamil cinema's biggest stars, Vijay. The director, who is emerging as one of the industry's most exciting contemporary filmmakers, had proved his mettle with the unconventional Maanagaram (2017) and Kaithi (2019), which didn’t feature stars.

Master is another feather in the filmmaker's cap even if the film unapologetically panders to Vijay’s fans more than those who are solely interested in Lokesh’s vision. Despite some minor grouses, like the long-drawn-out second half, Master is a largely entertaining star vehicle anchored by a brilliant Vijay and an equally good Vijay Sethupathi.

The first 15-20 minutes are spent establishing the antagonist Bhavani (Vijay Sethupathi), almost as an unstoppable force of nature who can kill anyone with a single punch. If you’re wondering how one blow can be so fatal, a believable explanation is offered.

Just when one gets the feeling that Bhavani has almost become invincible, JD (Vijay) — a hip and laidback professor with a drinking problem appears, and what follows forms the crux of the story.

Lokesh's signature is visible in quite a few places in Master but it still feels like a Vijay film. Thankfully, it isn’t one where Vijay’s character is a textbook definition of a hero, which is the case with most of his movies. We get a very subdued lead character and it’s refreshing to see Vijay deliver a laidback performance. He plays an alcoholic and it almost feels like Vijay was tipsy even while performing his scenes. Master heavily brings to mind Petta (2019), Rajinikanth’s last film, which was also set in a college campus. In both these films, the hero becomes a messiah of sorts for the students.

Be it Maanagaram or Kaithi, Lokesh is known for pushing the envelope when it comes to action. And Master doesn't fall short on this score but at the same time, the director goes slightly overboard — possibly because he felt audiences wouldn’t mind some degree of overindulgence in a star film. The pre-climax action sequence featuring Vijay and Andrea is a bit of a downer, especially when you compare it to a similar chase sequence in Kaithi involving lorries. Also, the film is littered with too many irrelevant characters. Nevertheless, both Vijay and Vijay Sethupathi make up for all of this every time they’re on screen. Both of them have ample space to shine and Vijay Sethupathi, who is at his effortless best, is once again a treat to watch. The film dips in the second half and it occasionally gets tiresome, but it’s the anticipation of the clash between Bhavani and JD that keeps the film alive. Their final confrontation helps the film end on a high note.

Apart from the terrific screen presence of Vijay and Vijay Sethupathi, Anirudh’s music is one of the reasons why Master, which is the first star-studded film to be released since the pandemic broke out, warrants a visit to the theatre. With his background score and Sathyan Sooryan’s visuals, Master makes for a perfect festival release.

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