Leo: A Repetition of Cliches
Star Cast: Vijay, Trisha Krishnan, Sanjay Dutt, Arjun Sarja, Priya Anand, Gautham VasuDev Menon, Mysskin, Mansoor Ali Khan, Mathew Thomas, and Sandy Master.
Music Composed by Anirudh Ravichander
Writer and Director : Lokesh Kanagaraj
Whenever Vishnu knew that a Rakshasa or Demon got a boon, he used to find the best possible way out to defeat that demon. For MCU fans, it is like Dr. Strange signaling to Iron Man that there is only one probable outcome to win. If Dr. Strange is Brahma then Vishnu becomes Iron Man and Shiva can be Captain America or Thor, for your liking. When we take biblical mythology stories – Michael, Raphel, and Gabriel tend to fight with Lucifer. Leo is a story of Lucifer turning into Michael to defeat Lucifer himself. Ok see it this way – Leo has become Parthiban but never killed Leo within him, so he needed to kill himself by eliminating any reference to the p6ast! Lokesh Kanagaraj has gone for such a metaphor in this film.
Anthony Das’s score and Harold Das’s themes have signs of Demonic chants and ritual music. At Parthiban’s cafe wall, you can see Angel wings in white color while the angel is colored in black. Popular belief is that wild animals can be easily tamed by Lucifer – the demon. It is debatable as the bible says God has created Animals as part of his creation and gave humans the upper hand over them to save them and look after them. While in demonic rituals it is more or less animal heads that are used to represent the Demon and his/her ride. Now, correlate with what you’ve watched on screen in connection with biblical and Hindu mythologies.
Yes, you’re disappointed and I am too. But the effort behind a writer-director’s vision cannot be discounted and disregarded because we were expecting more. It is better to know where he failed and for that, it is important to know what he tried. Another biblical mythology says that Lucifer wanted to start a family with Eve and hence, he chose deceit which would easily mean disobedience to his father, God. And God abandoned him to hell for his act of defiance. Now, what if Lucifer got his wish to live happily with Eve and now, he has to face the wrath of God? And in a twist of a tale, God helps him in his mission but Demons chase him. What if all this is said in “A History of Violence” and Lokesh tried to add his own comfort genre troupes into all this?
Go and read, “A History of Violence” and watch the film version as well. We always think that these kinds of stories are common in Indian Cinema. A man hides his identity and his past resurfaces in some or the other fashion. Yes, these stories are as old as Cinema as itself, in our part of the land. Still, many try again and again in different fashion to make them. Lokesh added this demonic ritual angle to it to fit the Lucifer killing Lucifer story. Vikram is a straight-forward Vishnu proving that Vishnu vacated Vaikuntam for Demons to attack his place while interestingly Brahma brings him back into the open and challenges him. Both unite to eliminate one big rakshasa and another Demon King raises to challenge them. Here, Vishnu is almost asking Bali to raise up from Pathala Loka to help him eliminate the Thanos size threat. Bali is Leo and Vishnu is Vikram. Amar is Brahma and Dilli is Shiva. All unite to kill Kali – Rolex for LCU. Biblical – Lucifer is Leo, God is Vikram, Micheal – Dilli, Gabriel – Amar unite to kill Beelzebub – Rolex.
This seems to be the proposed Endgame for LCU. Hence, Lokesh might have needed Lucifer kind of a cruel character to kill Lucifer and give Beelzebub, the chance to thrive, so that all can eliminate him and his army step-by-step. Let’s talk about Leo, Lokesh came up with Maya and Napolean connections from Kaithi and Vikram, we don’t really feel LCU is organically connected. It is because of the expectations the ensemble cast and combination arise. You can easily connect that it is after Maya’s appearance that Parthiban or Leo, looked more relieved. Before that, we saw him in fear and terror, even listening to a droplet, he ran to look at the windows and gates. After her appearance, we see him more relieved and planning his attacks and traps. That appearance has Sanjay Dutt’s appearance also accompanied it. You can see that Lokesh indirectly stated how Vikram was tracking him out and wanted him to join his bigger mission. Being a master in disguise, Kamal could easily help Leo to create fool-proof fakes for his new identity. But all this has been left for audiences to decode and did not stare them. Ok, enough with LCU speculations and hype. Leo as a film works for one hour and doesn’t fairly for most of the next hour. The answer lies in the deep dive I did. Lokesh wanted Leo to be Lucifer, the most feared fallen angel and greatest Demon. For him to be on God’s side, he needs to kill himself and hence, “A History of Violence” or Basha or Old template fits in this kind of screenplay. A man trying to hide from God’s wrath and the Universe’s eye finally understands that there is no escape and kills himself to become a new angel of God!
Why this did not work after a point? Lucifer is said to be Lucifer but not shown to be believed. Human Demons try to tame Lucifer and for their greed look to kill him. But these demons are toothless. Then the Demon Queen, the sister of Lucifer, is not completely given Human or Demon qualities. In simple words – We know Parthiban but we don’t know Leo. For this story to work big time, we needed to know Leo more. It is almost like seeing the reformed person, not the demon he used to be. This could be an issue that arose due to Vijay’s stardom and likeability among a wide range of age groups. Also, he might have thought this much of gore is right for universal acceptance. In any case, he did not go for creating dangerous greedy villains who could go to any lengths for their benefit. Hence, Leo with all the qualities to become a good Lucifer uniting God’s force story of LCU, ended up being neither a Vijay film nor a Lokesh film.
While Vijay (Almost looked like Vijay being less Vijay and more like star Vijay in both characters) and surprisingly, Gautham Vasudev Menon gave better performances, all others seem to have shown up and got their worth. I would have loved to see Madonna Sebastian, and Arjun’s characters being explored and more realized. I would have loved to see more meat in Trisha Krishnan and Vijay’s exchanges. I would have loved to see more investigation by Gautham Vasudev Menon and Mansoor Ali Khan sharing tales of Leo, and what makes him such a Badass. Technically, the film delivers and Anirudh scored what is required for the film. It is Lokesh Kanagaraj, who might have gone with the cliches that worked for him and in that repetition, tried to experiment. Hence, the balance went haywire and we ended up watching Lucifer and Lucifer only for the most part, while we needed others too. It is almost like Moses only heard one story narrated by God and wrote an entire book without any details.