Master (2021) starring Vijay as the protagonist and Vijay Sethupathi as an antagonist has been anticipated from last year. And the wait has been worth for Vijay’s fans. Director Lokesh Kanagaraj of Maanagaram (2017) fame has taken an age-old story of good vs bad, teacher vs rowdy, and given a compelling film. The film which got a theatrical release on January 13th is now available on Amazon Prime Video.

J.D (Vijay) is a college professor, an alcoholic yet sharp on his reflexes as all Indian heroes are portrayed, after earning the affection of his students and reforming the college, takes up an assignment to clean up a juvenile prison whose inmates are used for his personal gains by a former inmate Bhavani (Vijay Sethupathi). How JD takes on Bhavani is the story?

The dialogues have been sharp and to the point, and background score by Anirudh complimenting the narration perfectly. Though there are only two scenes where they see each other, the two stars are in a contest to outperform each other in every scene. In the first half, it was almost a Vijay Sethupathi’s affair, reminding his earlier performance from Vikram Vedha (2017). Throughout the film, Vijay has given a composed, mature performance, which I liked a lot. Also, appreciatable was J.D. telling the heroine Charu that there was no point in giving the backstory to his depression & alcoholic addiction as it may only encourage others to follow the bad habit. I enjoyed the style of J.D. sharing every romantic film as his backstory to everyone else who asks.

There was no comedy or other distractions in the film. The heroine character was totally unnecessary for this story. Also was the two songs – one was the celebration song by Bhavani and his gang members – the other was heroine’s love song. Avoiding these two songs, the several killings by Bhavani – his character already got established, so why he has to keep killing people for the same reason – could’ve easily reduced the running time by 30 minutes. By the time we get to climax, onscreen and offscreen everyone is tired and what should’ve been an epic encounter between the two becomes a formality.

Master is a film that feels good yet saying nothing new, it has been celebrated by his fans this season but is unlikely to be loved and remembered like his earlier megahits by the general public.

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