When some mainstream filmmakers and scriptwriters suddenly begin to talk about a “subject that has not been talked about much in our cinema,” which often means a film that touches upon LGBTQIA+ issues, one is now filled with a sense of dread going by their past record of negative portrayal of these communities. Any hopes of them correcting past wrongs are often misplaced, as is yet again proved in Monster.
But a discussion on this has to wait. Only a viewer who can manage to sit through the unendurable first hour of the movie would reach these portions where the scriptwriter tries to become progressive. This first hour is the extended slot set aside for Lucky Singh (Mohanlal) to regale the audience with his Punjabi lines (a mish mash of "Balle balle" and "Soni Kudi") and loads of humour, which is most often an excuse for crass double entendres.
Singh, who runs a chain of restaurants in Punjab, has landed up in Kochi to close a land deal. He ends up becoming a headache for Bhamini (Honey Rose), a cab driver who is assigned to pick him up from the airport, as he insists on her ferrying him around throughout the day. He even barges into her house, where she is set to celebrate the first wedding anniversary with her husband Chandran (Sudev Nair). But, as most people might have already guessed from the patterns seen in quite a few films in recent years, there is more to Lucky Singh than meets the eye.
Filmmaker Vysakh and scriptwriter Udaykrishna, who had previously gifted Mohanlal one of the biggest hits of his career with Pulimurugan (which had its share of issues), team up yet again for Monster, where they try their hand at the thriller genre, with a seemingly-progressive twist. At the risk of revealing plot spoilers, it has to be said that the movie's portrayal of LGBTQIA+ characters does not help in normalising them in mainstream cinema, but rather in further stigmatising them.
As per the scriptwriter’s theory, the society’s attitudes and ill-treatment of homosexuals can turn them into hardened criminals, who would then execute a series of crimes with a vengeance. In one key scene, where the lesbian couple is being confronted by a police officer, they proceed to kiss each other in front of him, in an attempt to overemphasise their sexual identity. Sequences like these give one an idea of the warped understanding that the makers have of these communities. Clearly, not much research has gone into writing these parts, which were probably included just because “progressive subjects” have a market these days.
Laziness is written all over the script, with much of the thriller part involving Lucky Singh narrating the entire sequence of events to a set of police officers, who were clueless about what was going on, because they hadn’t watched previous Udaykrishna offerings like Aarattu. Even the film’s title appears to be a random choice, evident from the last scene where an attempt is made to explain it, as an afterthought. It takes quite some monstrous levels of will power to endure this test of patience.