Masterpiece review: Mammootty shines but movie falls flat

Masterpiece is a typical Mammootty mass-action movie, tailor-made to suit his fans, writes Deepa Antony.

Directed by Ajai Vasudev and written by Udaykrishna, Masterpiece is a story set in Travancore Maharaja College, an idyllic campus. To spice things up, the campus has two warring groups, the Royal Warriors and the Real Fighters. Into their midst walks in a naïve and good-looking young man, Unnikrishnan, played by Gokul Suresh. Reminiscent of Puthiya mukham, the most famous girl of the campus, the ‘kalathilakam’, falls for him putting the already warring groups at loggerheads. Their relationship puts some events in motion that carry the rest of the movie ahead.

What starts off as a campus movie, then immediately nose-dives into an action flick and then takes a sweep at an investigative thriller that effectively undermines the audience’s sensibilities. Udaykrishna writes a loose script with glaring potholes totally inadmissible for a crime investigative story. It also stuffs a couple of twists out of nowhere into the climax so that the viewers are left flummoxed when the end credits roll. The narrative is more about appeasing the big names in the cast than narrating a good story. The script writes in “I respect women” as said by Mammootty’s Edward Livingston every half n hour he is on the screen. However all the women in the movie are overtly sexualized for the benefit of the male gaze. Reminiscent of the kind of police roles Vani Vishwanath used to portray, Varalakshmi Sarathkumar, plays Bhavani Durga IPS. She plays the quintessential lady cop who loses to the Megastar so his heroism is celebrated yet again. Not to mention, much like all female cops, she gets tight, figure hugging uniforms. Poonam Bajwa plays a college professor Smita, whose sole purpose in the movie is to play the female fiddle to the lead. Her character is only placed to add glamour to the frames and also shower Edward Livingston with lecherous and lascivious looks. But mind you, he respects women!

The saving grace however, is the camerawork. Vinod Illampally does a fantastic job with the beautiful locations. His frames are crisp and edgy, adding depth to the action-packed narrative. His frames play well along the mass-action element of the movie. The stunts are also well choreographed to engage the viewers with its intricacies. Ajai Vasudev, however, seems to have concentrated his direction in appeasing the stars, starting from Gokul Suresh, Maqbool Salmaan, all the way to Unni Mukundan, and of course, Mammootty, who all get elaborate befitting intro scenes, weighing to their star-power.

Yet, after the intro scenes everything goes down-hill for Gokul Suresh and Maqbool Salmaan. Both their characters lack depth, demanding a maximum of two or three different expressions from them throughout their presence on screen. Gokul Suresh looks every bit as handsome, as his father, but his acting prowess needs severe polishing. Mammootty’s Edward Livingston is the regular ‘mightier-than-thou’ hero he plays effortlessly. However, the Megastar would look much more graceful if he embraced a few grays to grace his mane. The sexagenarian might not look his age, but neither does he look 30! This movie works well for Unni Mukundan though, as he seems to have finally come of age. He evolves as an actor of subtlety, as his character shifts into gray areas. With style, brawn and substance Unni Mukundan establishes his stronghold on the screen.

Captain Raju, mostly remembered as Pavanayi, the contract killer, from Naadodikattu makes a rather disappointing comeback in this film. He plays himself, and in self-deprecating humor. However the whole sequence looks like a skit within the narrative added for no cause an effect. Speaking of added sequences for no rhyme and reason, this movie has an abundance of those.

The script has magnanimously allowed multiple tributes to the Megastar himself with references to his previous characters and works. There are references to almost all of his larger-than-life portrayals like Thevalliparambil Joseph Alexander from The King, Johnnie Walker, Pokkiriraja, Rajadhi raja and Pazhassi raja. The references were so thickly packed that I thought anytime now someone was going to break into a dialogue in the Rajamanikyam style, though it didn’t happen. The scriptwriter of the movie, Udaykrishna, makes a rather flashy appearance in one scene of no consequence to the story. He simply walks in with the bgm of Pulimurugan playing out as an accompaniment to his gait while he announces to the police that he doesn’t consume alcohol.

Masterpiece is a typical Mammootty mass-action movie, tailor-made to suit his fans, while graciously and magnanimously creating a citadel for Unni Mukundan, who finally seems to have grown into an actor apart from the action-hero(?) image he has worked hard to earn.


reviewed byDeepa Antony

22 Feb 2018 | 02:45 PM

  • directed by
  • Ajai Vasudev
  • Starring
  • Mammootty
  • Unni Mukundan
  • Varalaxmi Sarathkumar