Prithviraj Sukumaran’s much awaited directorial debut ‘Lucifer’ is more than anything else, a blatant celebration of the star actor that Mohanlal is, and in laying out a feast that caters to the colossal stardom of its leading star, everything else, including inventiveness takes a back seat.
In a starkly shady frame, that captures a decrepit church that is busy falling into smithereens, and a hoary graveyard that lies beside, the camera steers itself towards a man who has gravely settled down on a greystone, as he recounts an untold tale to a woman who listens to him in rapt attention. This is a picture of remarkable poise, that we have not seen Mohanlal in, for quite a while, and this is also the reason why the film, should be more than reason for festivity, for fans of the actor across the world.
Prithviraj Sukumaran’s much awaited directorial debut ‘Lucifer’ is more than anything else, a blatant celebration of the star actor that Mohanlal is, and in laying out a feast that caters to the colossal stardom of its leading star, everything else, including inventiveness takes a back seat. ‘Lucifer’ is flamboyant fan fluff, with enough and more shots and sequences to drive a passionate admirer crowd into sheer euphoria.
The mammoth crowds that throng the multitude of scenes in ‘Lucifer’ or the endless fleet of boats that lie splattered along the Arabian sea line bear testimony to the magnitude of the project that Prithviraj has in mind, and he makes no compromise in the mounting of his debut film on a colossal canvas, literally filling it up with characters jostling against each other for screen time and space, some of whom linger on to leave an impact, and several others getting elbowed out in no time.
It all starts with the sudden demise of IUF politician PKR (Sachin Khedekar), who also happens to be the Chief Minister of the state, and the questions that he leaves behind that are discussed in hushed whispers. Succeeded by his daughter Priyadarshini (Manju Warrier) and son Jathin Ramdas (Tovino Thomas), PKR leaves behind quite a few untold stories, apparently dredged up by the arrival of Stephen Nedumbally (Mohanlal), his much adored protégée on the scene.
Writer Murali Gopy sets up an antagonist base with no less grandiosity, and places Bimal Nair aka Bobby (Vivek Oberoi), PKR’s infamous son-in-law at its helm. He adds to it further by throwing in a few local politicians like Verma (Sai Kumar), Aloshy (Kalabhavan Shajon), Murugan (Baiju) and the like, and attempts to lend it further clout by linking it up with the dreaded drug mafia led by a tonsured Feodore, who talks of how bullets have an uncanny way of finding their way into his adversaries’ heads.
The story all the while, remains as recognizable to us as it could ever be – as recognizable as the rain that incessantly showers down on the crowd that sports black umbrellas – and the characters bear a striking semblance to the ones that we have seen erstwhile, in quite a few films across the years. Their names and immediate circumstances are given a remix, but liberally doling out a hotchpotch of scenes from several successful Mohanlal films and recreating them under the garb of an ambitious political thriller, ‘Lucifer’ plays a secure game all through, not taking any chances, and neither in a mood to leave a distinct mark in screenwriting history.
There are digressions galore that drag you back and forth along the main story-line, which starts off with Govardhan (Indrajith), a truth seeker going live on Facebook, revealing the possible repercussions that would immediately follow the end to PKR’s political reign. There is a fleeting bit that reaches nowhere on a media couple – Sanjeev (Giju John) and Arundhati (Nyla Usha) – trying hard to keep their heads above the waters, even as they realize that their ship – NPTV – is sinking faster than ever.
And there is the much talked about cameo by Prithviraj himself, who plays Zayed Masood, entrusted with the task of vigilantly clearing up the paths that Nedumpally would stride on, and dutifully opening up the doors that he would walk past. Even as an item number blares on and the ones around light up crackers, literally lost in a Diwali frenzy, Zayed and team get busy shooting and sweeping away the very last bit of dirt and grime that is likely to cling on, and let Nedumpally settle the final scores comfortably with a shot or two.
There is indeed a character that strikes a chord amidst this testosterone overdose, and the writer in Murali Gopy makes a few sturdy strokes with his pen in two scenes that involve Priyadarshini. The former one has her talking of how Stephen had barged into her childhood, rendering her mother insane, and almost forcing her to evolve into a replica of her battered mother herself. The latter one is devastating and in a hospital scene where she meets her daunted daughter Jahnvi (Saniya Iyappan), Priyadarshini finds the ground beneath her feet caving in, as she lends an ear to the most shattering truth that a mother would ever want to hear.
Verma is seen engaged in a deep conversation with Bimal Nair, and talks of how the protagonist of masala films usually make a grandiose appearance. The reference is very obvious, and Verma confesses that he is an avid admirer of such films, leaving plenty of scope for questions regarding the bearing of such an observation in a film as this, which by any shot appears not much more than a glorified, and at times even toned down version of many such past potboilers.
‘Lucifer’ has an impeccable looking Mohanlal, who is groomed to perfection; there is a grace to the man that cannot be missed and the cold composure that he sports is dignified to the core. Manju Warrier asserts why she is the best woman actor that we have today, and delivers a knockout performance with an authoritative punch. There are staunch performances from a host of other actors as well, like Vivek Oberoi, Tovino Thomas, Saniya Iyappan, Saikumar, Baiju, Kalabhavan Shajon, Fazil and Sachin Khedekar, while Prithviraj delivers the kicks with aplomb. Sujith Vasudev’s grandiose cinematography and Deepak Dev’s elegant musical score are worth a special mention.
The final scene pretty much sums up what ‘Lucifer’ had set out to do, an exhaustive three hours back. At some undisclosed snow-clad location in Russia, Zayed reverentially opens the car door one last time for the man whom we had all the while known as Nedumbally, with a few choppers and a small band of henchmen subserviently standing by. They zoom away into the icy white landscape, rendering Prithviraj’s fan portrait its final touches that would once and for all, transport its hero into those skyward realms where only epic figures would dare to tread on.
Verdict: Flamboyant Fan Fluff