Movies

‘Shylock’ movie review: When ‘Megastar’ Mammootty towers over the script

A superstar mass movie that can be made on autopilot without a director's interventions

In the opening sequence of Shylock is hidden perhaps the biggest secret about the movie. It all begins from a film shooting set. Producer Prathapa Varma (Kalabhavan Shajon), who borrowed a large amount from Boss (Mammootty), a money lender, has failed to return it on time and is avoiding the lender and not picking his calls.

The director, of the movie within the movie, has set up the scene to shoot the hero’s introduction. Mid-way through the shot, the hero of our movie, the Shylockian lender, arrives in style in his Rolls Royce to confront the producer. With the producer failing to return the money, Boss and his men kidnap the director.

Much of Shylock makes one wonder whether a scene similar to this happened in the film's set too, for it is a superstar mass movie that can be made on autopilot without a director's interventions. Half of the superstar's lines too are borrowed from other movies, both Malayalam and Tamil, in the name of "paying tribute". This is then explained away as his habit, due to his childhood dream of becoming a film star. Or maybe, the dialogue writers were kidnapped too.

Listening to the background score of familiar beats and tunes, one cannot be blamed for wondering whether the music director was kidnapped too. For instance, the hero's theme song has lines praising even his Rolls Royce.

Director Ajai Vasudev, who has worked only with Mammootty in his film career (his previous works include Rajadhiraja and Masterpiece) does not even attempt to bring anything new to the table. Milking the star's style and mass fan base is the only agenda. The first half is sprinkled with quite a few scenes that could send die-hard fans into a tizzy. Mammootty's Boss is a playful, villanious hero, a cross between some of his famous past roles. Almost all the other characters pale into irrelevance, as nothing here happens without Boss. Even the sidekicks are only there to crack jokes and provide introductory speeches before Boss’ arrival.

The slight fun element of the first half is lost post-interval as the movie shifts to a lengthy flashback, which gets over only when the movie is about to end. This flashback, set in Tamil Nadu, has a done-to-death story, which would serve as the base for revenge.

The star worship reaches its peak during an outdated "item song" filmed inside a dance bar. As soon as Boss arrives in style, and sits imperiously on a sofa, the three dancers surround him, singing in his praise, calling him a "megastar". The word "megastar" lights upon the screen, on cue. Not satisfied yet, the director plays out a clip from Padayappa, of Ramya Krishnan's character praising Rajini's evergreen style, meant to imply our star here.

If only they had worked half as hard on the script as they did on the star worship, this movie would have made a better tribute to their favourite star.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 3:23:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/shylock-movie-review-when-megastar-mammootty-towers-over-the-script/article30641612.ece

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