If Monster had been made 10-15 years ago, it probably would not have been as offensive as it is now. After all, most films, across languages, perpetuated the misguided and derogatory representation of LGBTQIA+ characters. But in 2022, when the Indian cinema seemed to have come a long way, Mohanlal’s Monster is an anomaly, and not in a good way.
The Malayalam film, directed by Vysakh and written by Udaykrishna, is a tasteless cocktail of cliches, stereotypes, lack of research, and lazy writing. After one of Mohanlal’s biggest hits Pulimurugan, the director and scriptwriter team up again with the veteran actor but the result is such that you wish they hadn’t.
Sadly, megastar Mohanlal — a Malayali-speaking sardar — can do little to save the thoughtless screenplay and half-baked characterisation of a lesbian couple, played by Honey Rose and Lakshmi Manchu.
The plot circles around an entrepreneur from Punjab, Lucky Singh (Mohanlal), who lands in Kerala to seal a real estate deal. Driving him around the city is Bhamini (Rose) — coincidentally on her first wedding anniversary — who, for better or worse, gets pulled into the ‘mysterious’ world of Lucky (unlucky for them).
Stigmatising or misrepresenting queer characters in films isn’t new. Several films, across languages, have been guilty of serving tokenistic, offensive, and senseless storylines for LGBTQIA+ persons. But, in 2022, we should know better. And the accountability doubles when a big, influential name is headlining a mainstream project.
In a scene, the lesbian couple kisses each other while they are being confronted by a police officer. This is meant to exaggerate their sexual identity. This is just one of the many ill-conceived sequences in the film, highlighting the makers’ warped understanding of the communities. Clearly, little to no thought was given while creating this project.
As Lucky Singh, Mohanlal tries to infuse humour into the character but the efforts prove to be hollow owing to irritating dialogues. But the issues with the wobbly script lay bare each time Mohanlal exited the scene. Most of the supporting cast, except Honey Rose, fall apart like dominos when they are tasked with holding a scene by themselves. At several junctures, you wonder if it is the substandard screenplay or undercooked characterisation that deprives the film of any redemption.
Under the garb of making ‘progressive’, the makers present a poorly researched and written script with an even worse and mind-numbing climax. Monster, performed by the cinema giant, does little to satiate your cinematic appetite. Perhaps, it should have been called off at the reading table.