Monster movie review: SJ Suryah's goofy encounters with a rat make this melodramatic film work
The concept of the Nelson Venkatesh-directed Monster is interesting, featuring a convincing performance by SJ Suryah and a pesky rat
The concept of the Nelson Venkatesh-directed Monster is interesting, featuring a convincing performance by SJ Suryah and a pesky rat. Both the hero and the villain here have equal footing. A few years back, SS Rajamouli gave a rat almost the same importance in his Naan Ee in a very entertaining manner, but Monster becomes mushy and preachy towards the climax.
Our hero Anjanam Azhagiya Pillai (SJ Suryah) is a god-fearing, benevolent assistant engineer working in government service at the state electricity board. Early in his life, he gets influenced by the Tamil saint Vallalar, who taught the philosophy of compassion towards all living creatures. He believes in ahimsa which is established in his characterisation and outlook towards life. Mekala (Priya Bhavani Shankar) initially refuses to meet him when he visits her house seeking an arranged alliance. But later seeing his nature she not only apologises to him, but also falls in love with him.
Soon, the villain makes his entry in the form of an irritating rat; the ‘monster’ wreaks havoc in the hero's life. Pillai moves in to a new house prior to his engagement, where a smuggler used to live and had hidden some diamonds in a particular brand of rusk (a type of savoury biscuit). Surprisingly, Pillai himself likes to snack on this popular brand of rusk which attracts the rodent. Life becomes a living hell as war breaks out between the hero and the rat who runs amok causing great damage. Finally, when Pillai captures the rat, he does not kill it but leaves it alive in a garbage can which leads to more trouble. Due to the rodent issue, his engagement with Mekala faces uncertainty. To add to his woes, the old house owner returns to get back his diamonds.
Monster as a short film would have been fine, but director Nelson stretches it to 140 minutes. The story and treatment becomes monotonous beyond a point with the hero's mumbo jumbo about ahimsa. One cannot understand why the hero after undergoing so much stress, including seeing a Rs 5 lakh sofa he had lovingly purchased on EMI for his fiancée shredded to pieces, doesn't get rid of the creature for once and for all. The long drawn out climax too turns out to be preachy and melodramatic.
The film works largely on SJ Suryah’s performance and his goofy encounters with the rat. Priya Bhavani Shankar as the heroine has lesser screen time than the rat, while Karunakaran’s one-liners as the hero‘s friend are enjoyable. The VFX team has done a decent job, though in some scenes the director has used a real rat. The screenplay could have been tighter with less melodrama as the film drags in the second half. On the whole, Monster offers something new and a fairly engaging film, but could have been more fast-paced with better writing and believable twists. As the old saying goes: don’t burn your house to smoke out a rat.
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