Monster movie cast: SJ Suryah, Priya Bhavani Shankar, Karunakaran
Monster movie director: Nelson Venkatesan
Monster movie rating: 3.5 stars
Despite what the title may have you believe, Nelson Venkatesan’s Monster isn’t about a large, ugly and frightening creature, but a rodent that refuses to leave Anjanam Azhagiya Pillai’s (SJ Suryah) home. A story on a rodent is not entirely a new idea, but a full-length feature on it, in Tamil, hasn’t been attempted so far. I remember watching an English film years ago on how a rat enters a factory and creates havoc being there.
Monster begins with a young Anjanam at school, where he is taught the sayings of Ramalinga Vallalar. For the uninitiated, this secular saint, who lived in Tamil Nadu between 1832 and 1874, practised compassion for all living beings. As a kid, Anjanam is gentle even towards an ant.
Nelson doesn’t waste much time on Anjanam’s past and takes us to the present.
Anjanam is in his mid-thirties, still single, and works at Tamil Nadu Electricity Board as an engineer. He stays in a rented house and nobody wants to marry him. He gets rejected again and again. Finally, he meets Mekala (Priya Bhavani Shankar), who works at a jewelry showroom. At the same time, Anjanam buys an apartment in Velachery. That’s when a rodent comes in as an uninvited guest to his place. What follows is quite an interesting ride, and Nelson Venkatesan narrates it effectively without gags. Portions involving SJ Suryah, Karunakaran and Priya Bhavani Shankar are engaging to watch. On the other hand, there is a parallel track about a diamond smuggler, which could have been avoided.
What redeems Monster is SJ Suryah’s performance as Anjanam Azhagiya Pillai. He easily outshines everyone. Not all successful directors are good actors, but Suryah showcases his acting skills and proves that he can play a diverse range of characters with equal finesse: like the reluctant smile he employs very often on the screen.
Despite limited screen presence, Priya Bhavani Shankar and Karunakaran put up a convincing performance.
The plot of Monster is simple like SS Rajamouli’s Naan Ee. Not often we get a film that takes you into the world of the filmmaker, which is so profound and Nelson Venkatesan manages to achieve this in his second film itself. His storytelling technique is his strength, that re-emphasises ‘this world is for all’.
The hero of the film could be SJ Suryah, but the little ‘Monster’ grabs all your attention. I heard the rodent we see onscreen is a real one, and I am surprised how the makers pulled it off without VFX work. Gokul Benoy’s cinematography deserves a mention and credit equally goes to Justin Prabhakaran’s background score, besides Sabu Joseph’s editing that helps us move with the pace.