The previous weekend has been terrific in terms its new releases, all of which have scored well in their own capacity. With the same kind of momentum, I ventured into the new PAN India film Michael which did look like a promising gangster drama. Genre films based on the gangster theme are always interesting provided they are rooted to the place where they are set in. With an interesting mix of characters thrown in, it would make for a fun watch. A recent example that does come to mind was the Tamil film Vendhu Vanindhatu Kaadu which was quite a textured and flavourful drama that brought out the gangster film quite well. But one drawback of the genre is also that it can easily become repetitive if it isn’t written well. And so with a bit of hope and skepticism, I finished watching the film Michael. Does it manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Michael is a gangster drama which follows the story of the protagonist who wishes to stamp his authority amidst some big fishes in the sea. Will he be successful? The story here does begin well but for some strange odd reason, the writers play it very safe thereby making the drama cliched and generic. The screenplay standing at a shade above 150 minutes does overstay its welcome, given that the story starts to spread thin.
First things first, I was quite impressed with the use of lighting here. Surprisingly, it did add texture here simply with its style. The drama opens with a tagline, ‘After The Climax’ and a little later, ‘Before The Beginning’ that did help to set the context well. For me, the writing here was willing to give the film a chance to unfold in a layered manner. That said, I couldn’t help but think that the writing had an overbearing similarity to KGF right at the very beginning. Although, the proceedings were engrossing but the similarity was evident.
One of the main issues that I had with the drama was that it did not completely define the place where the drama was unfolding. The sudden jumps to multiple cities did not help its cause here. Had the drama been more rooted, the impact of it would have been higher. While the first 35 to 40 odd minutes did make for an intriguing watch, as it should be for a gangster film, the slide begins immediately after the love angle is introduced. The slide is steep and how! Even the beats of the screenplay begin to get generic with every twist and turn that is predictable and doesn’t really harm to the protagonist in any manner. To give you an instance, the interval block saw the protagonist being shot in his chest and thrown in a 6 feet deep gorge. But miraculously after the halfway mark, he is resurrected and wants revenge. Meh!
The events of the second half are straight out of the 80s or 90s films. Yes, the action scenes may not really be gravity defying but the proceeding takes the route of a generic revenge drama. So Michael is after his boss and his son as he begins his hunt. Even the introduction of Vijay Sethupathi’s character seemed gimmicky and really cliched. It was as predictable as sun rising from the east! I knew that his character was a catalyst to help out the protagonist and so there were little surprises here. Even the final act when all the cards are revealed did not surprise me at all. It is as if I knew the plot all along as I just about scraped through the film unharmed. A setup for a potential sequel too was just half hearted. Lets hope its second part has a little more substance because the screenplay here is far too generic and cliched for my liking.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are alright, nothing much to shout about(remember Pathaan?). The music is decent but at least a couple of songs just stall the flow of the drama. The BGM is really good and it was one of the positives in the drama. Likewise, the cinematography is brilliant and it made me sad as these two elements were trying to bind the film together even when its writing was making it sink. Director Ranjit Jeyakodi begins on a good note but slowly lets things slip and never really recovers from the slide. The direction is plain average.
The performances are just about decent. Divyansha Kaushik as Theera, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar as Kannamma and Anasuya Bharadwaj as Charulatha have zilch impact on the screenplay. Vijay Sethupathi was clearly having fun here and he did a good job like always. Gautham Vasudev Menon as Gurunath is intimidating and quite impressive here. Sundeep Kishan as Michael is decent, his dead pan expressions are a bit of a letdown although he impresses in the combat sequences.
Michael made me wonder, ‘Why Thou Cliched and Generic’, summing up the film which is just plain average. Available in a theatre near you.