After a nearly fatal accident, petty conman of the streets, Masilamani (Suriya), realizes he can interact with ghosts who need their incomplete wishes fulfilled. And among the ghosts is his father, Sakthi (Suriya again), who was brutally murdered by the villains…
I think I can finally say it though I was hoping I did not have to. Venkat Prabhu, the once extremely promising filmmaker (Chennai 600028 (2007)), is dead. He leaves behind a man who claims to make not films but instead dishes out diets (Biriyani (2013)) and aims to hit sixes (Massu Engira Masilamani). Little wonder then, his films are becoming little more than a collage of obvious crowd pleasing commercial items and in-house Tamil film jokes put together haphazardly and edited most jerkily in the hope of boosting a flimsy narrative, which is then put together by mishmashing from various films. In MEM, he combines the horror-comedy genre – the film owes a lot to The Frighteners (1996), Ghost Town (2008) and the Korean film Hello Ghost (2010) amongst others – with a formulaic revenge drama that’s been done to death. Unsurprisingly, the final result is a half-baked hotchpotch of a product going nowhere. OK, he might have attempted a type new to Tamil cinema, but it’s finally the complete film that counts and MEM fails miserably in its execution. Lazy writing, tacky CG and a terribly weak first half pretty much sound the death knell for the rest of the film. This when the second part of the film is a notch better with at least some plotting and the odd interesting twist but by then its bland going ons fail to engage you.
Don’t get me wrong. I have no issue with the formulaic entertainer or even lack of logic. For instance, Premgi says spirits don’t go to temples but he does and later on we find out he is one. But at least the filmmaker should work on the elements to make the narrative flow entertaining. Staples like the intro song or the action scenes feel awfully stale and the less said about the romantic track and its development (or lack of) between Suriya and Nayanthara, the better. The scene where he first sees her with the change in music is lifted straight from Mani Ratnam’s Thalapathi (1991). Yuvan Shankar Raja gives a very average musical score in terms of his songs (Poochandi perhaps being the best of the lot) and their choreography and picturization lack sparkle. The background score does come alive occasionally like the lively ‘Masss Theme’ but overall, does little to elevate the film. RD Rajasekar does give the film some polish with his lighting and framing but again when the script is weak, no amount of great technicalities can save a film and MEM is no exception.
The other person one is most disappointed with is the film’s leading man, Suriya. OK. I can’t complain about his performance(s) as father and son. He is an extremely capable actor and he delivers (he’s great in the more emotional moments of the film) for his fans but I do wonder what makes him select scripts like this. Post Vaaranam Aayiram (2008), there has been a steady decline in the quality of his films and barring an Ayan (2009) or a Singam (2010) – not great films but at least watchable enough – the films have been mediocre to say the least. It is tragic to see such a colossal waste of talent but here, I feel Suriya is as much to blame as the filmmakers. Being the star, these films only get made once he gives the go-ahead to the project. And it’s sad to have to see him piggybacking on Ajith’s iconic line from Mankatha (2011) or have the Kaththi (2014) background score play in the film.
There’s not much to say about the other actors. Nayanthara gets no help from the script while Praneetha does little more than look on in wide-eyed wonder probably trying to come to terms with the fact that she has been paired opposite Suriya. Premgi Amaren is largely unfunny but bearable enough in the only other substantial role outside those of Suriya’s but that is because he has been reigned in and controlled. The rest of the actors including Parthiban have no scope for performing and don’t really make an impact.
The filmmakers might have wanted to make a film that is massu but unfortunately, the final result is one big messu.
Tamil, Horror, Comedy, Thriller, Drama, Color