The plot opens with Vijay Sethupathi’s character Bhavani, who we see evolve from a delinquent to a powerful criminal. JD and Bhavani’s contrasting traits and characterisation is one of the stronger elements of the film, and though Vijay is, well, Vijay- it’s Sethupathy who will possibly draw back audiences for a second watch.
Slick stunts, impressive fight sequences dominate — Lokesh’s oeuvre with lorries and gritty night scenes continues after his previous film Kaithi. In this process, we also see strong performances from the majority of the cast. However, the powerful build-up starts losing its rhythm in the second half as several characters who showed promise in the first half fade away in the second without any proper explanation. Actors like Andrea, Shanthnu, Gouri, Sriman, and Srinath are completely underutilised in the film. All strong performers, they certainly deserved better. Another actor, who seems to have been added to the mix for star value, but not much else is Malavika Mohanan, who doesn’t have much to do by way of role or scenes.
In the film, we have some political undertones in the college elections scenes, but the taut chemistry between JD and Bhavani gives way to preachy, sycophantic scenes and ends in a predictable climax.
The high points of Master are Vijay’s freshness and excellent action sequences by Stunt Silva. Another standout element is the music by Anirudh Ravichander who knows how to hit the right notes for mass heroes. Arjun Das also impresses with his baritone and presence. Despite sharing screen space with both the Vijays, he manages to stand out. Could Lokesh have handled the film better? Unlikely, because Vijay fans have been hand-reared in such formulaic fare, and to that end, Master is the perfect recipe for Pongal.