'Michael', produced by Bharath Chowdary and Pushkar Ram Mohan Rao, was released in theatres today.
It is somewhere in the early 1990s in Bombay. Gurunath (Gautam Menon) has evolved into a sinister gangster who knows no mercy. He has made enough number of enemies. His biggest strength is turning out to be Michael (Sundeep Kishan), an orphan he almost adopted. Gurunath's son, Amar Nath (Varun Sandesh), wants to make a splash in the underworld by laying his hands on a ship container with drugs worth Rs 300 Cr. This is also when Michael's importance in the mafia world goes up. The rest of the film is about what forms the bloody dynamics take, eventually leading to the entry of a woman named Teera (Divyansha Kaushik) and a muscleman (Vijay Sethupathi).
In the early 2000s, the influence of 'Nuvve Kavali' and 'Nuvvu Nenu' was seen in every other college campus film of the day. In today's times, 'KGF' and 'Vikram' are doing the function of serving as constant inspirations for a whole range of action movies. 'Michael', the film under review, has been described as a multi-genre gangster action drama. In terms of "blurring of the lines between good and bad and right and wrong, and thematic motifs including revenge..", this film also has traces of the neo-noir genre, although the cinematography by Kiran Koushik is not shadowy in nature.
The ambition on paper doesn't get translated on the big screen. 'KGF' had the ability to sell itself mainly because Yash could make us believe that he was insurmountable. 'Michael' fails to do that - for it doesn't know how to get the characterizations right, the world-building right, and even the casting (read Anasuya Bharadwaj, Varun Sandesh, and Anish Kuruvilla) right.
Right off the bat, the film bombards us with stale motifs. The hero, as a child, offers an unrealistic solution to the hunger pangs of a woman. The episode ends with the beneficiary of his one-time heroism predicting that he will one day rule the world (whoa!). Remember the 'Duniya' line from 'KGF'? The film foretells the inevitable, fearsome rise of Michael in the murky world of drugs and mafia.
Divyansha Kaushik's intro scene has her dance on the floor. Her dancing is foreign, much like the literature Gautam Menon's character reads. After a point, the film stops feeling rooted. The conversations sometimes are peppered with English-language lines. At other times, there are no conversations. In fact, one too many times, there is too little speech from the male lead; Sundeep Kishan's character has barely got a page of dialogue. It's not like dialogues are a must. The second half of 'Akhanda' and the 'KGF' films had less number of words per minute relatively. But then, the action and/or emotional undercurrent must be outstanding for the audience not to miss the power of speech.
Even in a gangster film, the writing department here dares to come up with a goddamn eve-teasing scene as the deal breaker between the hero and heroine. Such scenes are scene even in college stories, rom-coms and family entertainers. The titular character's nightmares are staged in the style of alien psychological thrillers. The film is way too over-confident about its borrowed material for its own good.
Gautam Menon's Gurunath smiles his way through death threats and murder attempts. You know nothing much about him. That's fine. At least, he speaks way more than every other character in the movie. Varun Sandesh, as his son, plays that over-ambitious madman. Unfortunately, he is reduced to a stock character.
For a film that wants to be an epic action saga, the narration alternates between the heroine crying and men attacking/counter-attacking for a lot of screen time. Another sore point is that Vijay Sethupathi's character looks more convenient than organic
The main performances are among the plus points. Sam CS' background score is good. The final act is relatively more involving.
'Michael' has got a decent enough storyline. But the screenplay and execution cry for imagination.