Tamil Reviews

Masala Padam Review: Cliché Defence

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Masala Padam is a brave attempt. Cinematographer turned director Laxman Kumar tries to do what director Parthiban did with Kathai Thiraikathai Vasanam Iyakkam. Its core idea, the ‘effect of critic’s review on a movie’, leaves Laxman with limited screenplay options. You can talk about how producers are affected by these reviews. What the audience thinks and does while watching a movie. Or what goes in the minds of these reviewers and critics. As I walked into the theatre, I wondered how Laxman would deal with this unique concept. Not story, but concept. As the title card reminds us.

*****

A group of amateur bloggers take up a challenge on a talk show. To come up with a brand new script. One that is devoid of clichés but still falls under the ‘Masala Padam’ (mass entertainer) category. A well-known producer throws down the gauntlet to these bloggers. If they can write a script like that, he’ll direct the film with a leading hero. The bloggers plunge into an analysis of the ‘Masala Padam’. They narrow it down to a mix of four genres – action, rom-com, melodrama, and comedy. Next, they find four people whose lives seem to function within these genres. And follow them to understand their lives.

Action – Bobby Simha – Check

Comedy – Mirchi Shiva (Obviously) – Check

Rom-Com – Gaurav (Boy, is he cute) – Check

Melodrama – Lakshmy Devy (Also this film’s screenwriter) – Check

Lakshmy Devy is the central point. She connects the three characters, and helps the bloggers understand the various incidents in their lives. Will these bloggers come up with new age commercial cinema? Or will they succumb in the face of the challenge thrown at them?

*****

Masala Padam Movie Stills
Masala Padam Movie Stills

The first half of the film is fresh and engaging. We have a detailed view of a blogger’s life and a producer’s life. For instance, even when a movie flops, producers give the directors a false sense of confidence. They lash out at reviewers who run down their film. The director feels that he’s genuinely made a good film. It’s the reviewers who can’t spot ‘art’ the way he can. In one scene, a blogger’s mother says, “Producers enna exam ah ezhudharanga, neenga (bloggers) avangaluku mark podardhuku?”(“Are these producers writing some sort of exams? Why are you guys rating their films?”) Such dialogues definitely hit home, in a culture where launching a harsh but witty tirade against a film can be a publicity stunt in itself.

*****

Masala Padam Movie Stills
Masala Padam Movie Stills

Director Laxman’s idea behind categorising Gaurav, Mirchi Shiva, and Bobby Simha under the A, B, and C class audience was unexpected. Each characterisation is neatly crafted and well executed. Bobby Simha, as a menacing villain, brings back Jigarthanda’s ‘Assault Sethu’. Leave out his fake wig, and Bobby’s intense expressions and edgy lifestyle definitely make an impact. Mirchi Shiva, who returns after a series of box-office failures, manages to keep the audience entertained (though only in parts). Lakshmy Devy shines throughout the film. As the co-screenwriter, she’s definitely done a tidy job. Although it’s the second half, where she’s the central character, that has the weaker script.

The climax of Masala Padam doesn’t really work. The film has four actors to work withBobby Simha, Mirchi Shiva, Gaurav, and Lakshmy Devi. Four characters. Four unique lives. It raises audience expectations about a different kind of story, a refreshing combination of their lifestyles. And then, it disappoints. After all the hue and cry about clichés, we’re back to the same old film full of familiar stereotypes. More disappointingly, the producer gives us what he calls a fitting explanation for this. 

A perfect commercial film without clichés. Is that really too much to ask of contemporary directors? If there’s one thing this movie does tell us though, it’s the subject has crossed their minds. And for that, we’re thankful.

*****

The Masala Padam Review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have an advertising relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

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