Beast is the most-anticipated collaboration between one of the quirkiest directors in Tamil cinema, Nelson Dilipkumar, and one of the biggest and most bankable stars - Thalapathy Vijay.
The film aspires to be a commercial Indian version of the Hollywood invasion thrillers. It adds local humour, sprinkles sentiments and has a number of action sequences. And, we must say, it succeeds to an extent.
Bankrolled by Kalanidhi Maran of Sun Pictures, the Vijay-starrer features prominent actors like Pooja Hegde, Selvaraghavan, Shine Tom Chacko, Yogi Babu, VTV Ganesh and Redin Kingsley, with music composed by Anirudh Ravichander.
The story revolves around Veera Raghavan (Vijay), an ex-RAW agent who quit service because of a traumatic death and betrayal of the government. A few months later, he is trapped in a mall with civilians, that is hijacked by terrorists who demand the release of their leader. Did Vijay kill the terrorists and save the hostages? What follows next is the rest of the story.
The most refreshing thing about Beast is that a huge star like Vijay has been consistently comfortable in playing roles that are going through mental health issues. For instance, he played an alcoholic in Lokesh Kanagaraj’s Master. In Beast, he visits a therapist to deal with the trauma.
It was so good to see Nelson break the star vehicle format of having slow motion shots and extreme close-ups for the hero when he is introduced. Vijay doesn't overdo it, rather he just walks in with a subtle and low key introduction. But that doesn't mean the film has no moments of celebration for the Thalapathy fan in you.
Vijay looks charming than ever, donning the smartest dapper looks. The brilliantly-choreographed action sequences are absolutely whistle worthy. Vijay is in tune with the lyrics in the film.
Though Selvaraghavan has acted in the yet-to-be-released Saani Kaayidham before, Beast marks the debut for the director as an actor on screen. He certainly shines well in the film and lets you chuckle at times with his cunning and clever comedy.
The world knows about the virality of the songs in the film, 'Arabic Kuthu' and 'Jolly o gymkhana'. In addition, the brilliant background score ably accentuates the action sequences and makes him the real 'Beast' of the film. The best thing about Beast is, unlike the usual commercial films, it doesn't have too many songs that feel forced in the screenplay. Though the film suddenly segues into 'Arabic Kuthu' right at the beginning, you automatically tap your feet to the groovy number without any complaints.
However, I don't know why poor Pooja Hegde is roped into films just as an eye candy, where the heroes only comment about her legs or hips or she is seen dancing to songs. For instance, Allu Arjun’s Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo has 'Butta Bomma', wherein Allu keeps staring at Pooja’s legs. In Beast, too, Vijay asks if he can hold her hips, and the sequence cuts to 'Arabic Kuttu'.
Though the plot revolves around terrorists hijacking a mall in the city, there are no significant moments that let you feel the panic, keep you at the edge of your seat or bite your nails. Probably that is one reason why some of the jokes fell flat in Beast. For dark comedy to work better, you need the tragedy to be tragic enough. In Nelson’s previous films like Kolamaavu Kokila and Doctor, he builds the panic so well that we become invested in the tragedy. Then, when an unexpected joke lands, it makes us burst into laughter.
But what makes Beast less powerful is the overtly powerful protagonist and the lack of a strong antagonist. I know it's a Vijay film. The build-up for the big star is mandatory to satiate the Thalapathy fans. But when the terrorists are such shallow characters, we know Vijay is going to win.
Beast is neither Nelson's film nor Vijay's film. It’s good but not the best combination, where Nelson tries to cater more to the Vijay fans and Vijay tries to fit into Nelson's wacky world.
Beast is now running in theaters.