The Malayalam movie Lucifer, directed by Prithviraj Sukumaran, begins with the death of a strong political leader PK Ramdas (Sachin Khedeker). He is survived by his daughter Priyadarshini (Manju Warrier), son Jathin (Tovino Thomas), son-in-law Bobby (Vivek Oberoi), granddaughter Jhanvi (Saniya Iyyappan) and adopted son Stephen Nedumpally (Mohanlal). Following the untimely death of the leader, the party IUF has to choose a successor and the series of events that follow form the storyline of Lucifer.
Performances in Lucifer
As expected, Stephen (Mohanlal) is a clichéd mass hero, who is being respected and loved by many people. Whoever messes up with him will be in big trouble. Even if a dozen goons attack him, he has enough power to handle them single-handedly. Mohanlal’s screen presence and performance are sure to be a visual treat for his fans. The action sequences are impressive enough to give you goosebumps if you strictly a Mohanlal fans.
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Meanwhile, Lucifer is different from Manju Warrier’s usual women-centric movies. However, there are two-three important scenes in which she performed remarkably, thanks to her expressive face. However, the script should have explored more details about her personal life. For example, nowhere in the story, we get any details about Jhanvi’s father.
Casting Vivek Oberoi as the antagonist Bimal Nair aka Bobby seems to be the right decision taken by the team of Lucifer. Unlike the other-language actors, who always struggle to lip-sync dialogues in Malayalam, Vivek has done an excellent job. Actor-dancer Vineeth has modulated his voice impressively for Vivek’s character Bobby.
The movie has an ensemble cast. But except Mohanlal, Vivek, Manju, Sai Kumar and a few others, most of them make an extended cameo appearance in this movie. Be it Sachin Khedeker, Fazil, Tovino, Saniya, Nyla Usha, Giju John, Bala, Kalabhavan Shajon, Baiju, Shaun Romy and Shakti Kapoor, to name a few. Though Indrajith Sukumaran’s character Gowardhan looks interesting, the script has failed to make good use of him.
Meanwhile, the way Tovino’s character Jathin making his first public appearance gives us a hint on how things happen in politics in the wake of elections. His introduction speech was a well-crafted scene in the movie.
Prithviraj’s directorial venture
Directing a big budget movie with an ensemble cast would be difficult for many debut filmmakers. But the experience Prithviraj has in the industry makes the job easy for him as Lucifer doesn’t look like the work of a newcomer.
The ambitious director tried to make Lucifer a pan-Indian/international movie by casting Bollywood, Tamil and foreign actors. He has also included Hindi and Tamil songs in the film, which is majorly shot in Kerala and Mumbai (and a single scene shot in Russia!).
Being an actor, who is known for picking experimental movies in his career, the audience would have expected something different from Prithviraj’s debut directorial venture. However, Lucifer is just a commercial masala entertainer made to impress Mohanlal fans. And, Prithviraj seems to be the biggest fan of Mohanlal. Throughout the movie, we feel that the director (also a fanboy) has tried to pay tribute to his all-time favourite actor. When it comes to the theme of Lucifer, it is disappointing that there is nothing fresh in it.
Lucifer has everything Keralites are already familiar with having watched the super hit Malayalam movies, directed by Renji Panicker, Shaji Kailas etc. In fact, Mohanlal even repeats some punch dialogues from his own old movies to cheer up the fans. (like “Narcotics is a dirty business” dialogue from Irupatham Nootandu movie).
Meanwhile, some of the characters have striking similarities with India’s national political figures (members of one of the powerful families in India). It also takes a dig at the TRP hungry Indian news channels possibly funded by prominent political parties.
Director’s cameo appearance
Meanwhile, Prithviraj also plays a significant cameo role as Stephen’s right hand, Zayed Masood. But, whenever his character shares screen space with Stephen, we see how (too) much respect he has towards him. His fight scenes are neat and fresh. And the way he reacted when a goon asked him to attack one-on-one like a man was actually different (or maybe funny).
What went wrong?
I would like to call Lucifer as a movie made by a group of Mohanlal fans just to make lakhs of the superstar’s fans happy. Therefore, it has a predictable storyline and is all about glorifying the character Stephen Nedumbally (but, way too much!). Plus a lot of clichéd moments.
** Spoiler alert starts **
For instance, here is a well-known scene. Scene 1: A police officer (also a villain) arresting the hero from an orphanage he runs. Scene 2: An inmate of the orphanage running towards the handcuffed hero. 3: Police officer pushing the kid. 4: Despite under arrest, the hero places his feet on the officer’s neck (taken inspiration from Spadikam?) for hurting the kid. 5: The humiliated officer determines to take vengeance against the hero.
Oh! Sounds familiar, right? Lucifer exactly has this!
** Spoiler alert ends**
However, compared to Murali Gopy’s previous scripts, Lucifer would be the uncomplicated script ever written by him. (PS: Tiyaan was not my cup of tea.. at all). Still, there are many unnecessary dialogues with biblical touch.
When it comes to Deepak Dev’s background score, at times, it was too loud that we couldn’t hear certain dialogues. And the clamorous Tamil song played during the first fight sequence is enough to trigger your migraine. (The song was okay, but it was too loud).
Purely a masala movie…
Another biggest mistake from the makers’ side is a never-ending item song towards the climax. Even the viewers, who would normally enjoy watching such songs in movies, would have felt the same way. It was unceasing. I wish if Prithviraj had tried not to include this song (always part and parcel of every masala movie), it would have been a breath of fresh air for us. Also, what exactly are the makers trying to tell us through Sreeya Remesh’s character as a serial actress?
Irony! Prithviraj had vowed not to be part of movies that celebrate misogyny, right? And in his debut venture, the female characters, however, continue to be weak (except for the time when Priyadarshini decides to lit her father’s pyre). That’s when we think she would be a viable heir to her father. But, the fact is that she has no idea what her family is up to. Despite attempting to raise voice against her husband once, she breaks down and asks the hero’s help.
To sum up, Mohanlal and Prithviraj Sukumaran’s Lucifer — the three-hour-long saga — is purely a commercial masala entertainer. The movie had the potential to become an entertaining political thriller. But only if it was not made to glorify the larger than life image of the hero with a lot of slow-motion shots and cliché moments.
Incidentally, when a character in the movie asks another if he watches many masala movies, he replies:“Yes. It tells you the public’s taste. I know exactly for which scene they will cheer for”. And yeah, the makers of Lucifer knew the pulse of the fans and just made a movie to make them happy.
[PS – For viewers, who are not Mohanlal fans: Lucifer isn’t an entirely bad movie, but is not a different one either as it is all about extolling the hero.]
5 stars: Exceptional, masterpiece
4.5 stars: Well crafted piece of art
4 stars: Very good, exciting, interesting concept and amazing performances
3.5 stars: Good, better than what I expected, but has some minor flaws
3 stars: Okay, one-time watch
2.5 stars: Mixed feelings
2 stars: Disappointing. Watch at your own risk
1.5 stars: Frustrating.
1 star: A complete disaster. Better avoid this