Say, if I were a producer and someone came to me with a movie theme that married Aboorva Sahodharargal (revenge of a child) to Sixth Sense’s (freak child, answering parayers for the dead), my interest may have barely been awakened. If said movie’s idea was pitched with scenes, songs and action that sounded like they’d be considered cliches for our 90s, I’d run away with my money.

When the director who’s pitching this is Venkat Prabu, I may be inclined to listen to what he has to offer (Chennai 28, Saroja & Goa), although with a measure of skepticism (Mankatha and Biriyani). This is a director who is brilliant with his execution, even when his product isn’t working for us. That rare director who is not willing to abandon his faith in vintage Tamil film devices, yet scrupulously infusing them with what works with the audience of today.

After a couple of debatable outings, Venkat Prabhu gets his form back (imho). It’s all about getting his trademark moves right. He nails each one of them – snug script, stock situations taking unconventional turns, self-deprecating/irreverent humour and milking references from his earlier films. How Venkat Prabhu, the genre-bender, melds close to ten genres into a single seamless experience is the success of Masss.

Perhaps, a Venkat Prabhu script’s strength is found when his list of secondary characters is long. While other directors tend to pepper secondary roles into the story for disposable reasons, Venkat Prabhu offers them depth, a proper backstory and a minor arc. Then, these aren’t random additions, but purposefully accessories to the primary characters.

Suriya bounces well from the Anjaan disaster. Dialling down on “I-too-want-in-on-the-mass-hero” craze does wonders for him. A vulnerable Suriya is any day, a more bankable hero. Fortunately or unfortunately, he’s not one of those actors who can get off the ground with just the style. His returns to substance (organic or fake) and everything fits right. Venkat Prabhu brings the right mix of form and style. Venkat Prabhu’s sixer Masss lands neatly over the rope. Both looking for a hit, land a sweet spot. When it’s not offering you a laugh-riot, Masss’ light-weight philosophy adds depth and a meaningful purpose to itself.

Also a huge bonus, that Premgi Amaran’s comedy works in this film. His return to playing the foil to the hero is done to effect. Parthiban has a blast; he downs some with his humour and then there are jokes had at his cost.

Happy to see Yuvan return to movies after a rather long pause. Gives me another opportunity to assert how Yuvan owns the background music, when he’s presented the right film. A single song (‘Piravi’ – VP brings together the Illayaraja/Vairamuthu வாரிசுs together) bundles all the emotional punch a movie needs to pay you off.

While we embrace our new wave movies Tamil films for being weird, dark, intelligent or humorous (best if served with all of them), we need our masala movies too. Masalas that have moved ahead with the times and have a certain quotient of the new wave movies. I can hear you growing restless and impatient with me now. Yes, Massu ennum Masilamani (engira Masss) is certified fresh masala.

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