LUCIFER: between style and substance

Lucifer is one of the most anticipated films of 2019 owing to Prithviraj’s long directorial as well as Mohanlal’s entrée – it’s a befitting piece from someone who has embraced Cinema for a long time. Lucifer, in traditional Christianity stands for the leader of the devils, an angel who was cast from heaven into hell because he rebelled against God. Lucifer is usually identified with Satan. Prithviraj Sukumaran’s directorial debut Lucifer stands between a thin line of greater evil and lesser evil. “This is the world’s biggest comedy, babe. This is Indian Politics!”, exclaims a young politician, the Indian Politics stands as a motif for evil(?). Lucifer is an embrace as it sways between style and substance, Prithviraj’s cinematic serpent embraces the spectacular drama amidst sociopolitical chaos.

A political Godfather PK Ramdas (Sachin Khedekar), who ruled the God’s Own Country dies and a lot of thieves dressed up as politicians take over the rule. When the question arises on the replacement of the ‘God’, just one name emerges; Stephen Nedumpally (Mohanlal). Lucifer delves deep into that unexplored abyss of what appears to be normal to those eyes that refuse to see beyond the seen. Writer Murali Gopy pens a tried-and-tested resonating political drama by mending the biblical subtext, especially the transformation of Kerala’s tagline: “God’s Own Country” transforms into a deck of a card game. With numerous intervening subplots, the conflict-and-resolution has a lot on the platter; one may find difficulty deciphering the events unfolding in the first half. Scriptwriter Murali Gopy and Director Prithviraj Sukumaran dribble with the political succession, drug mafia, biblical references and more importantly power struggle. Even though Lucifer is a mass gratifying piece in Malayalam Cinema, it comes with a bunch of major drawbacks (for instance, magnanimity is dumbed down by verbosity, the screenplay will potentially qualify for a far better novel). When the substance falls short, the style takes over and vice-versa, it’s a quality package which ensures worthy (and logistical) mass moments.Lucifer is an engrossing and a gripping sociopolitical tale borrowing minor references from Christianity as well as Mahabharata. The references stand the mirror to the contemporary political environment, hatches a reflective commentary. Since it’s an eclectic ensemble, every character is finely etched, painted grey and finds space amidst the intervening subplots. Nevertheless, it’s taken down by jarring Deepak Dev’s BGM which is initially radiant. At times, it electrifies the proceedings but it continuously pops up which tampers the rousing narrative. And in the third act, the makers succumb towards the usage of unnecessary item song which waters down or rather kills the excitement for an anticipated climax. While its “contorted” narrative is convincing and Prithviraj’s skillful direction makes it more energetic and appealing. Lucifer is a technically sound film which has an old school charm, it’s cinematic aspect ratio makes us traverse into the realms of the political climate. Cinematographer Sujith Vaassudev’s eye-catchy camerawork subtly adds to a spot-on investment in the world of Lucifer.Mohanlal delivers an exuberant performance, in a character potential realized and etched to the fullest. While a few months back Karthik Subbaraj fanboyed with Rajinikanth in Petta (2019), here, Prithviraj’s fan gaze ignites Mohanlal’s worthy moments. Lucifer features a rich ensemble of terrifying Vivek Oberoi, restrained Manju Warrier, swagger Tovino Thomas, significant Sai Kumar, and bombastic Indrajith Sukumaran.

Lucifer runs at 2 hours 57 minutes, which adds a tiresomeness since it loses the steam amidst item song in the third act, only to pick up in a surprising post-climax knockdown. Prithviraj Sukumaran’s Lucifer concludes on a pitch-perfect note, a gratifying experience which sways between style and substance. And lives up the engaging promised deal!

Language: Malayalam
Release: 28 March, 2019
Rating: 3/5

Copyright ©2019 Ninad Kulkarni. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.


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