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Lucifer – Realpolitik in a Superstar film

Lucifer, the Malayalam political action starring Mohanlal, has all the elements of a masala blockbuster (as it became the biggest earning film of all time in Malayalam), but it has a lot of political (and biblical) references. While I am not fit to interpret the biblical references, I cannot let the political references go by without any comment.

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[If you haven’t watched the movie, nothing below will make sense to you]

*SPOILER ALERT*

read the plot if you haven’t seen the film, but the movie should be watched. 

The movie pokes fun at the entire political system. 

The return of PKR’s (Chief Minister’s) prodigal son, Jathin Ramdas (Tovino Thomas) after his death is an obvious poke at the Dynastic politics in India, and directly on the Gandhi family, considering IUF in the film is the Congress. His elder sister (Manju Warrier) and Husband (Vivek Oberoi/ Bimal “Bobby” Nair) are meant to be stand-ins for Priyanka and Robert Vadra, especially with Bobby’s hand In real estate dealings. Various other political tropes are also seen with Baiju as Murugan, the ever “young” politician, the traitorous nature of politics, and the many connections that run it. The media and its convoluted nature is made fun of, by following the events that occur in the IUF (Congress) funded channel, NPTV. Idealism exists in the Lucifer filmverse, but it is a distant reality in most of the movie and dictated in more House of Cards style politicking than idealism that usually governs movies involving politics in Malayalam Cinema. Yet, the movie’s ending is idealistic with Mohanlal saving the day and the straightforward and honest Jathin Ramdas being Chief Minister and IUF (and by extension Kerala politics) removed of Bobby’s (and his super boss (Fyodor)’s death).  (Also who would have thought the Russian Mafia had a role in Indian Mafia).

This is made exceptionally clear in Jathin Ramdas’s introduction, which pokes fun at NRKs. The introductory speech by Jathin is similar to that of Matt Damon in The Adjustment Buearau, but it does not look out of place.

There are many scenes in the movie that is a direct (or indirect sly) on real life characters, with the character of the IPS Officer Mayilvahanam being portrayed brilliantly, with an unmistakable reference to a certain IPS officer of the Kerala cadre.

Indrajiths’s Govardhan is also a character (a conspiracy theorist) which has another eerie similarity to another Malayalam Social media star.

The movie is a realistic take on politics and its connections to crime. 

“Politics is not a fight between good and bad, it is between the bad and worse” – Stephen Nedumpally, aka Mohanlal.

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Stephen (Mohanlal) in the movie telling Bobby that he will not allow the sale of narcotics in Kerala.


The movie clearly shows the real nature of politics and how it inevitably is linked to crime. Mohanlal’s whole character is based on the outlook that there are lines even in nefarious activities that cannot be crossed. Yet, the movie is an idealistic understanding in so far as the near god-like status it gives PKR. (In fact, in the story Stephen/Mohanlal narrates to the Children in the Orphanage, PKR is, in fact, God). The movie again envisions idealism with the song “Varika, Varika Sahajare!” an Independence struggle song (by Amsi Narayana Pillai, a song that every trueborn Malayali as heard at least once)  that is recited by PKR’s long lost rival. The Super stardom worship is of course, a part and parcel of the movie and it would be best to suspend realism in such scenes.

Mohanlal’s aim is to prevent the flow of drugs into Kerala, and opposes the attempts of Bobby to make Kerala a drug center. Stephen (being the hero) opposes this and also being the International Mafia don, is more than willing to put his resources to that end. Which screams of Don Corleone in The Godfather, and his opposition to the drug business. One cannot also notice some distant similarity to Sagar Alias Jacky and by extension Irupatham Nootandu. The Mafia don who refuses to involve himself in the narcotic trade? à la Sagar/Jacky. Much like Sagar (alias Jacky), Stephen Nedumpally has many names; his business name is  Khureshi-Ab’ram. [1]

The movie sets itself apart in the above two respects – it shows political dynamics in a realistic fashion without making the hero the idealistic visionary who wins out at the end. Rather, he is still the kind-hearted Godfather who will kill all the truly bad guys and save the orphans at the end of the day. Yet, it is still couched in idealism to suppose such a person exists. It is still a welcome break from the usual litany of political films in superstar-verse that fail to look at politics with a realistic angle. [1]

The movie appeals to the Mohanlal fanboy (in me)

As mentioned earlier, the movie is a commercial action film, which while grounded reality suspends it whenever there is an action scene, understandably so. Prithviraj’s debut venture as a director shows Mohanlal as the superstar he has been in films before, without making one feel tad nauseous in the action scenes.

Vivek Oberoi’s acting is par excellence, and his dynamic with Manju Warrier is exceptional in the film. There are obvious flaws in the movie has fleshed out Manju Warrier’s character, and the last half an hour could have definitely been better. Then again, what do I know about movie making? Leave it to the experts, I say.

Also P.S.: I love Mammoty’s acting too. It’s just that I like Mohanlal more – probably cause of Devasuram and nothing else.

[1] Addendum on 16/03/2020

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