Producer- Ronnie Screwwala and Sidharth Roy Kapoor
Director- B. Unnikrishnan
Cast- Mohanlal, Priyamani, Narain, Jagathy Sreekumar, Anoop Menon, Babu Antony
Music- Deepak Dev
Review By : Unni R Nair/ Kerala9.com
B.Unnikrishnan’s ‘Grandmaster’, if analysed impartially is a formulaic thriller which somehow lacks the thrill, to a great extent. No doubt the suspense element is kept intact and the real villain revealed only at the end of the whole thing. But at the same time, we should agree to it that the film lacks something vital that takes away from its ‘edge of the seat’ quality, which it should have had, being a thriller. The pace slackens at times and there are sequences that you won’t want to see, especially in today’s times, when slick thrillers are no rarity. Despite all these, ‘Grandmaster’ is no bore; it can be watched, at least for the sake of Mohanlal, who does the lead role and that too with conviction.
‘Grandmaster’ tells the story of Chandrasekhar (Mohanlal), who is shrewd and deft with his moves, whether it be a game of chess or a fight against criminals. He is an officer of the IG rank with the Metro Crime Stopper Cell. But for the last few years, he has been indifferent towards his duty as a cop and had hence stayed away from the force, donning other posts with other departments. This had happened after he got divorced from his wife Deepthi (Priyamani), a criminal lawyer.
But now, Chandrasekhar is back in form and fights it out like old times when three young girls are abducted. And immediately after that, he swings into action when he receives a letter challenging him and informing beforehand the date and the place where a crime would be committed. Then follows letters one after the other, and murders one after the other, in alphabetical order. The first victim has her name beginning with ‘A’ while the second victim’s name begins with ‘B’. The murderer challenges Chandrasekhar and goes on doing his deeds. Chandrasekhar has but little time to stop him and nab him, for he soon gets a clear idea of things that initiated the murders, but he fails to identify the murderer.
All is well; the storyline seems impressive, the suspense element is intact, the blend of the professional and personal lives of the protagonist is done in a rather judicious manner- but there is something about the flow, something about the treatment that makes it all go wrong, to an extent at least. You don’t get drawn in totally; you are able to detach yourself from the flow and watch the goings on in the theatre and even make a phone call or two. An edge of the seat thriller is one that captivates you and which is also pacy, in all ways. That’s where ‘Grandmaster’ goes wrong. Another thing that disappoints you is that though there was an impressive star cast at hand, the director hasn’t been able to make proper use of them. All others, except Mohanlal, sort of get sidelined, due to a script wherein characterization could have been done in a better way and all artists given better scope for performance. The scenes where we have the salesman (played by Babu Antony) making confessions before a hooded priest too lacks appeal and seem long drawn out. All I feel is, had it been scripted and directed better, the film would have been a great thriller. As of now, it’s OK for a watch and you can afford watching it for Mohanlal.
Mohanlal is good as Chandrasekhar, though it certainly wouldn’t be counted among his career best performances. No one else in the cast gets enough scope for performance, not even Priyamani, Narain or Anoop Menon.
Cinematography by Vinod Illampally is in tune with the theme of the film while Joseph Nellickal has done a good job of the art-direction. Manoj the editor did whatever he could with the stuff in hand, but that doesn’t work.
Background score suits the mood but songs fail to impress. In fact do we need songs in this film? Maybe not; and if at all songs are there, they should work towards building up the tempo of the thriller, which unfortunately is not the case with the songs in ‘Grandmaster’.
B.Unnikrishnan should have done the script a bit more meticulously. This doesn’t mean the film is too bad or totally insufferable; it’s watchable stuff. But if the script had been better, the film would have been a totally different experience. I am of the opinion that B.Unnikrishnan, who has scripted slick thrillers earlier, should have focused more on the scripting than the direction.
Making a film on a script that has many loose ends is equally the director’s fault as it’s the script-writer’s. Here both persons being the same (B.Unnikrishnan), I’d say that either B.Unnikrishnan should have first done the script in a better way and then set out to direct the film very meticulously or else he should have got someone else, preferably someone like Shaji Kailas, to direct the movie. That would have helped do away with the pace-related issues the film now has as its handicap. If the film had been slick – like ‘Bharath Chandran IPS’, ‘Tiger’ or ‘Baba Kalyani’, it would perhaps have been better and watchable. Anyhow, better luck next time!
Verdict: Passable fare…watch it for Mohanlal!