One superstar directing another. That could be allure enough for any Malayali. But along with this Mohanlal being directed by Prithviraj mix, there is more to Lucifer. This superstar equation is backed by Manju Warrier, Tovino Thomas, Sai Kumar and Vivek Oberoi… all the makings of a box office hit.
Director Prithviraj had during promotions of the movie mentioned how he was making a movie that would appeal to those who, like him, are hardcore Mohanlal fans. Many fan posters too quoted his dialogue: “The way I want to see him (Mohanlal)”. And that is what this movie is all about: Mohanlal. Mohanlal the actor, Mohanlal the superstar and Mohanlal’s character Stephen Nedumpally.
Prithviraj’s experience as an actor and as a student of mass cinema is evident in his treatment of the story. He has concentrated more on how the plot unfolds rather than what it offers to the audience. The movie begins with the death of a well-loved and respected politician PK Ramdas. Other political leaders and relatives of Ramdas are trying to take advantage of his death and Ramdas’ beloved disciple Nedumpally is on the other side. Lucifer is the story of betrayal and vengeance between these two forces. Everything else is predictable. We don’t have to tell you Mohanlal will emerge as the all-pervading saviour like he has a hundred times before. Towards the climax, even this predictability goes over the top.
Prithviraj has worked on Mohanlal the star more than he has on Mohanlal the actor. Scriptwriter Murali Gopy has also gone back to the legend of Mohanlal with references ranging from the 1980s blockbuster Irupatham Noottandu to Narasimham and the more recent Pulimurugan. But thankfully the director-scriptwriter team have been able to blend in these references without making it sound repetitive or exhausting.
But what makes Lucifer stand out is how each character develops on its own. Bobby (Vivek Oberoi) is the apt villain for Stephen. While his performance through the movie matches up with that of Mohanlal, in the climax, he uncharacteristically gives up to the hero. But then this is a Mohanlal movie.
Priyadarshini, portrayed by Manju Warrier, is predictable too. But the way she carries the character forward with reserve and ease, makes her performance stand out. This is one of the most appealing characters Manju has done in recent times. Tovino makes the best of his limited screen time and gives a fleeting insight into national politics.
Prithviraj’s cameo as Zayed Masood, however, suits neither the actor or the star. But his brother Indrajith’s role as an activist, though minor, leaves a lasting impression.
Read our Lucifer review in Malayalam
Lucifer has nothing unexpected, and to some extent fails to deliver even what was expected. The pressure build-up during the first half of the movie flags with twists and turns of the second half. Though touted as a fight between evil and evil, in a bid to appeal to the star’s fans, Prithviraj has gone soft on the evil side of Stephen Nedumpally. Instead, he is projected as a saviour, almost missing the “grey” he was talking about.
Lucifer has some obvious parallels to Tamil movie Petta by Karthik Subbaraj, where the director made better use of the star and actor in Rajinikanth. As Karthik gave life to the Rajini fan in him, he also revived Rajini’s lost magic from earlier hits like Padayappa and Bhasha. Prithviraj has tried to bring out the best version of Mohanlal the star. For Mohanlal fans like him all over the world, Lucifer will be a treat.