Chennai, 18 May 2019 9:00 IST
Despite pacing issues, Monster works as an enjoyable creature feature that hits the right emotional notes and presents Suryah in a very different avatar.
Nelson Venkatesan’s Monster, which features SJ Suryah in one of his liveliest performances in recent years, is a film that works both as an experimental comedy and as a social satire on the need for coexistence.
Though it looks like a film intended to be made exclusively for kids this summer, it has a lot going for it to even appeal to adults. Despite pacing issues, Monster works as an enjoyable creature feature that hits all the right emotional notes and presents Suryah in a very different avatar.
Monster is centred on Anjanam Azhagiya Pillai (SJ Suryah), a Vallalar follower who believes in the concept of not harming any living creature irrespective of size. He is single, in his 30s, and works with the electricity department. In spite of multiple attempts to find a life partner, he has only faced rejection so far.
One of the prime reasons why Anjanam gets rejected is because he doesn’t own a house. When he finally buys a pricey apartment and moves in, it takes him very little time to realize that the house harbours a rat which turns his nights into nightmares and his home into a battleground.
Monster is both gutsy as well as underwhelming. It’s gutsy because no Tamil film or filmmaker has made a film that gives a rat more spotlight than the hero and Suryah (a delight to watch here) needs to be appreciated for that gesture.
It’s underwhelming because the film is needlessly stretched to a point where the writing becomes redundant and the novelty loses its fizz. Thankfully, Nelson doesn’t stretch it too far and makes up for the dull portion with a heartwarming climax.
The film touches upon the need for coexistence. The point is put across fittingly, even if not in the most convincing manner. A subplot featuring a diamond smuggler is a thread that could have been avoided because it sticks out like a sore thumb.
Monster manages to achieve a lot of great moments with the rodent. The best part is that most of the film has been shot live and not elevated by visual effects. The camera work deserves special mention for giving us a front-row seat into the world of a rat which gets captured beautifully.
In a refreshingly light-hearted and positive role, SJ Suryah is a treat to watch. His scenes with the rat are outright funny. It’s a role that was certainly not easy to pull off, but Suryah owns it and makes it memorable with his animated performance. A beautiful stretch that involves Sivaji Ganesan in Mirudanga Chakravarthi (1983) is laugh-out-loud funny.
With Monster, Nelson establishes himself as a filmmaker with many tricks up his sleeves. It’s not just creative to make a live-action film with a rat; to make it as engaging and entertaining as Monster requires lot of talent.
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