Disney+ Hotstar’s Masterpeace, which has Nithya Menen and Sharafudheen, benefit from its fresh appeal and performances, even when the proceedings become predictable
Masterpeace story: A quarrel between couple Ria and Binoy, soon gets blown out of proportion when their parents enter the fray. What starts out as an ego issue that could have been easily solved between the two, gathers spikes as the two families and other unwelcome intrusions further complicate the matter, with the generation gap between them adding to the misunderstanding, in this five-episode Malayalam web series streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.
Masterpeace review: In Masterpeace, after an uninvited guest, Aparna (Divya Pillai), lands in the middle of a heated debate between Ria (Nithya Menen), Binoy (Sharafudheen) and their parents, the former’s father (Ashokan), who is the leader of a faith protection committee, draws parallels between Mohanlal’s Drishyam and their current predicament, warning the younger visitor, through Georgekutty’s dialogue about what happens to an unwelcome guest who disturbs his family’s peace. What makes the whole situation hilarious is how out of place the dialogue is in the setting with Aparna herself asking him why he’s explaining this to her. In a way, the scene conveys what Sreejith N’s five-episode web series Masterpeace is all about – misunderstandings, generation gap and how unsolicited advice can wreak havoc in families.
Over the years, the Malayalam audience has been quick to dismiss movies that have been preachy. This is why any film with a moral lesson attached now gets the label of a “Sathyan Anthikad-type film”. This is probably what prompted Sreejith, who had previously written the script of Bro Daddy and directed Oru Thekkan Thallu Case, and writer Praveen S, to package Masterpeace as an over-the-top comedy-drama. And the makers succeed to an extent, with the production design lending a fresh appeal and the actors keeping it engaging, even when the proceedings become predictable, with their performances.
The plot of the series evolves within a day and there’s only a limited set of characters. This is both its boon and bane. When the makers focus on its protagonists, Ria, Binoy and their parents, essayed by Ashokan, Shanthi Krishna, Maala Parvathy and Renji Panicker, the series is a blast, despite the makers covering a familiar territory but without being too preachy. This is also why, in an episode, where the story strays to the predicament of the couple’s friend, it becomes sluggish. In fact, the series takes an entire episode to recover the pace that it had built in the first two.
Much like its central theme of making a mountain out of a molehill, there are times, in fact too often, while watching Masterpeace that you would wonder why this was a five-episode series of 30 to 40 minutes in length, instead of a straight two-hour-long OTT film? With the kind of hilarious situations that work, the quirky characters and setting, the movie would have worked as an enjoyable film, much like Sreejith’s script Bro Daddy. What kills the fun in Masterpeace’s case is its length.
That said, the last episode of Masterpeace – which serves as the story of the elder protagonists and addresses their issues – is its best because it’s able to balance the perspectives of the two generations effectively and also has some effective character transformations.
Over-the-top comedies, especially that handle this subject, in Malayalam have not been easy to make. In that sense, Sreejith succeeds. The makers have been able to weave in the issues that millennial as well as young couples face, along with certain social issues that have plagued marriages as well as families. Through Nithya’s Ria and Sharafudheen’s Binoy, they have addressed the changing priorities of new-age couples and the need for people to constantly evolve to understand them better. But that’s not to say that the makers haven’t shed light on the challenges of the older couples like adhering to their beliefs of religion as well as of what an ideal family is. In fact, the sermon in the film, which actually doesn’t come from a priest even though it has one, actually adds to the feel-goodness of this series.
In terms of performance, it’s the women who shine in Masterpeace. Nithya manages to strike the perfect balance with her portrayal of Riya, with just enough quirkiness to not make it become absurd. Maala Parvathy is a treat to watch, as the mother-in-law who is always at odds with her daughter-in-law but too saccharine to show it. Shanthi Krishna’s character, who spouts song lyrics as parables, is fun and is the anchor in the dysfunctional setting.
Sharafudheen, somehow, feels a bit out of place in the setting. Though his comedic timing is exceptional, the actor’s character stands out for being too real in their zany setting. Ashokan, Renji Panciker and Jude Anthany Joseph play their parts well too in the film, which also benefits from a Wes Anderson-esque vibe with red and yellow dominating, with the pastel colours giving it a feel of watching a long and pleasant advertisement.
Masterpeace verdict: Nithya Menen and Sharafudheen’s web series is packed as a warm and colourful satire about generation gap and misunderstandings, but it wears outs its welcome due to the length of each episode and feels one episode too many – considering the limited setting and characters.