New Delhi | Updated: March 29, 2019 8:24:57 pm
Lucifer movie cast: Mohanlal, Vivek Oberoi, Manju Warrier, Indrajith Sukumaran, Tovino Thomas, Saikumar, Sachin Khedekar, Saniya Iyapan
Lucifer movie director: Prithviraj Sukumaran
Lucifer movie rating: Two and a half stars
For a primarily North Indian audience, watching a subtitled Malayalam film is now becoming a regular multiplex delight. A few week backs, I caught the fiercely independent and spirited Kumbalangi Nights; this week it is Prithviraj Sukumaran’s fashioned-like-a-full-blown-blockbuster Lucifer.
No surprise that Lucifer is a fanboy tribute to eternal superstar Mohanlal, who is in one of his several In and As roles, embellished with swelling background music, and reverential slo-mo takes. What else can you expect when you have Mohanlal to play with?
For me, the most interesting thing about Lucifer was its attempt to broad-base its appeal via casting choices, to make it a pan-Indian movie: Vivek Oberoi has a large role, there is an item number in Hindi, a long action sequence is set in Mumbai, a bunch of Russian hoods go bang-bang, and, what do you know, even Shakti Kapoor pops up in a blink-and-miss cameo.
The nearly three-hour-long saga is stuffed with wily politicians, crooked cops, complicit media, and sly nods to real life. A political party in Kerala finds itself in a state of flux after the unexpected death of its leader PKR (Khedekar). His daughter Priya (Warrier) is tangled in a web of her own making: her corrupt husband Bimal Nair aka Bobby (Oberoi) has set his eyes on the party, and his teenaged step-daughter. Reluctant son Jathin fetches up, along with his foreign girlfriend, who, gasp, speaks, Hindi. Bobby, we all know, is short for Robert. A TV channel called NPTV groaning under debt, is forced to do unethical things. And I’m sure there must be many more references which I missed, lost in subtitles.
But there’s no missing the mythologizing that takes place around Mohanlal, as he swings between Esthappen/Stephen/Lucifer, and being a saviour and a killer, spouting, all the while, smart lines from his own popular films, all meant to make the audience roar. You think you are MGR? That question is asked so that there can be a smackdown, which comes after a brief pause: no, I am me, or words to that effect. Whistles.
The introduction of a drug cartel and dirty money allows the film to show us some foreign types and their bristling weapons, and the director to come on flashing his fighting chops. It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve seen Prithiviraj pounding the bad guys, he does it equally efficiently every time, even if the portly Mohanlal taking on a shed full of armed hoods, reminiscent of the famous Bachchan sequence in Deewar, is a bit of a stretch.
Oberoi gets a full-fledged role as the amoral baddie, but doesn’t quite break through. The one who impresses is Tovino Thomas as Jathin, the politician who promises to clean up the state. The one thing that sticks in the craw is that the women have practically no agency: finally, even Priya, who starts out as an individual, comes crying to the all-powerful Lucifer, to solve her problems.
Overall, though, Lucifer proves that Prithviraj does have a flair for direction, and the ability to amp up the drama, and keep things moving briskly. Next time around, maybe lop off some running time, and tamp down the ear-shattering background music. And give us women who can do, not just do as they are told.
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