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Beast started with V. As soon as the letter of the English alphabet flashed on screen, there was ruckus in the cinema hall. Then the words Thalapathy Vijay splashed on the screen and the theatre seemed to physically rock with Vijay fans’ exuberance.

There was an expectation that the next scene would have Vijay making an appearance with an action sequence. But, no! Vijay gave a balloon to a little girl, personifying “beauty”. But that girl was in Kashmir and the audience should know that the calm and peace was only deceptive. Soon enough, Vijay was back to his elements. A spectacular fight scene followed and the fans’ occasional hoots became a frenzy. The theatre could barely hold the celebration.

The reception was not unusual for a Vijay film. The difference was that Vijay has collaborated with Doctor director Nelson. Doctor was an action comedy and starred Sivakarthikeyan.

A spectacular fight scene followed and the fans’ occasional hoots became a frenzy. The theatre could barely hold the celebration.

Has the collaboration dished out anything new? Yes, the character Vijay was playing is new. No, the story and screenplay were typical.

Nelson Dilipkumar, director of movie Beast.
(Photo Credit: Nelson Dilipkumar Twitter page)

Nelson seems to believe a hostage situation is the best way to create the hyped drama that Tamil movies demand. In Kolamaavu Kokila and Doctor, the heroine or the hero kidnapped someone and that took them into the villain’s orbit. In Beast, the hostage situation was massive. Just as the trailer showed, people inside an entire shopping complex were taken hostage by the villain.

As it happened, the hero and the heroine were in the mall when it was seized.

The terrorists who stormed the mall demanded that one of their leaders who was held by the government should be released. The hero, who until then was only seeking to escape from the mall, then decided to get into the action. He had a connect with the demand. The rest of the story is tried and tested and has been done to death in many, many action movies.

Amidst all the action and superlative stunts that sought to bring the audience, or at least the fans, to the edge of their seats, Vijay and others tickled their ribs, too.

Manoj Paramahamsa’s cinematography was a highlight of the movie. There was a generous dose of VFX but the digital stuff was seamlessly integrated with the staged reality. Anirudh’s Adhirvettu added gusto to the fast pace. The music, cinematography and smart editing brought alive Nelson’s screenplay. In the first half, the sequences were brief and fast-moving while in the second half, they were long, even thoughtful.

Makali and Kili, two comedy characters in Doctor, did an encore in this movie, too. But was that necessary? Doctor made several more appearances in Beast. Vijay surrendered on his own volition just as in Doctor. And just like in Nelson’s last movie, a fight and a song came after the movie formally ended.

One sequence in Doctor – a finger being cut – was bloody enough for that movie. In Beast, blood splashed around as much as Vijay. And the viewers were invited to revel in the flow of red.

Such sequences are typically found in Telugu films. But for an actor like Vijay, who is as much a hit with kids as with adults, the gore was out of character.

The action sequences were like in a video game. The small consolation was that Beast wasn’t a 3D movie. The blood and gore would have been unpardonably nasty in 3D.

The violence did not seem intended to invoke fear, dread or even sympathy. The video game-like portrayal of brutality ensured that even when the villain finished off a garrulous old lady, the audience was not really moved. If the intent was to dehumanize the characters, the action scenes certainly achieved that.

Photo Credit :  Actor Vijay Twitter page

Vijay, in this movie too, didn’t pull his political punches. The punch dialogues came in full force. The surprise performance of his fans in the local body elections was alluded to. Vijay told one of the bad guys that he can’t learn Hindi to speak to him, instead the bad guy should learn Tamil so they could talk.

In the climax, Vijay said elections were going to come in a month. And it was time to send a missile across the border to Pakistan. Balakot? His demand that Rafale jets should be pressed into service served to dispel any doubt.

Vijay asked his fans to be prepared, and said, “I am not a politician. I am a soldier.” None of this moved the story forward though.

The comedy of Yogi Babu, Kingsley and Telugu actor Prithvi Raj were par for today’s masala movie course. So were Pooja Hegde’s and other women actors’ cleavages.

Vijay asked his fans to be prepared, and said, “I am not a politician. I am a soldier.” None of this moved the story forward though.

But perhaps what stood out was Vijay’s character. Amidst the punch dialogue and Tamil movie heroism, Vijay played an ex-RAW agent who decommissioned himself due to his mental ill-health. In Master, Vijay played a recovering alcoholic. But Vijay Sethupathy overshadowed Vijay in that film and his character was forgotten. The generous stubble Vijay sported in Beast served to emphasize his melancholy.

Vijay has a keen understanding of how much acting is required in commercial films. And his performances flow out of that understanding. Overall Beast is a plus for Vijay. A discordant note was that Beast is not for teens and kids, who are a part of Vijay’s fan base.


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