Frames in Movies

How to get a Superstar Intro right – Prithviraj’s perfect execution in Lucifer

I remember watching an interview of Vivek Oberoi during the promotions of Lucifer. He said -” I came on the sets on the first day of shooting. I saw how Prithviraj carried out himself, turned to him and asked – ‘ You are bluffing. This is clearly not your first attempt as a director. You really do not look like a debutant'”

Lucifer’s huge success and its great repeat values stems from its director who had a clear vision of what his end product should be. Prithviraj knew he had Malayalam Cinema’s biggest superstar at his disposal. He knew his stardom is as intact as it is three and half decades before. He knew what the fans wanted. Then with the help of his writer Murali Gopi, Prithviraj produced one of the most memorable star intros in Malayalam.

At the end of Lucifer, Prithviraj had not only breathed fresh air into a genre that was dying in Malayalam Cinema. He would also suddenly look the best big scale director in Malayalam in past 10 years or more.

A look back at how Lucifer’s smashing intro was setup:

From the moment the movie starts with PK Ramdas’s death, Murali’s Gopi’s writing has one intention – stage the characters and premise to lead to one important event – Stephen Nedumpally(Mohanlal)’s introduction. When PKR’s corpse is covered with the flag, you hear in background the Father( Fazil)’s voice – ” Esthapan – You must go and see PKR . It is said that the dead have the gift of sight until they are cremated. They must see their beloved ones before they leave the world “. Its established now why it is important for Stephen to see PKR one last time.
Prithviraj would next use his love for the letter L to write down both his hero’s and movie’s titles.
Manju Warrier in Lucifer
When Govardhan( Indrajith)’s character and his live facebook video is used to introduce PKR’s daughter, Priyadarshini (Manju Warrier) and his son in law (Vivek Oberoi), it is also quickly stated that Priyadarshini doesn’t like Stephen. She makes it clear to Mahesha Varma (Sai Kumar) that no matter what happens, one person should not be allowed inside. When Mahesha Varma replies “Who?”, you don’t get a name. Prithviraj quickly switches his scene back to Govardhan to introduce Stephen.
Indrajith in Lucifer
Govardhan continues to converse with his facebook viewers and ask what makes this particular person PKR’s favorite. His lines would end as ” For Hindus, he would be Mahiravana. For Muslims, he is Iblees. Among Christians, he has only one name – Lucifer”
The next scene is the Church and after listening to Father Nedumpally’s words, Stephen decides to visit PKR one last time. As he gets outside the church, you could see Prithviraj’s obsession with centered frames, instances of which you would see more in the movie.
To make sure Priyadarshini’s instructions of blocking Stephen is followed, Mayilvahanam IPS gives Mahesha Varma the idea that Prime Minister’s chopper is landing in an hour and that reason would be enough to block Stephen’s car too.

Now the writing has done its part to establish the conflict for the hero. Time for the hero to arrive.
Mayilvahanam tries to block Stephen’s car ( that this car’s number is 666 which stands for ‘devil’ tells all about a director who doesn’t want to leave out even the smallest detail) .

At this point, Stephen decides to leave the car and walk.
As Stephen lifts his mundu ( in a style that reminds his numerous other hit movies) and walks past Mayilvahanam, Deepak Dev’s rousing BGM starts in the background.
How do you add to the impact now ? You have the crowd erupting and fellow party workers shouting “Stephen Nedumpally Zindabad” as they jump and cross the barricades to join Stephen in their march to the town hall. Prithviraj does a fantastic job with all the big crowd scenes throughout the movie.
Icing in the cake is this crowd passing the very same police officer who tried to block Stephen as he stands helplessly
Lucifer intro scene
This opening of the police barricade showing Mohanlal in the center is sheer clever film making on how to evoke goosebumps in an already exciting sequence.
Baiju and Saikumar in Lucifer
Now time for the old school technique of using the side character’s reactions and dialogues to elevate a situation. As Mahesha Varma asks – ” What is all the noise about. Has Prime Minister’s chopper arrived ?”. Murali Gopi sneaks in a smart reply from Murugan ( Baiju) –

“Ithilum bedham anger varunnathaayirunnu !” ( “That would have been better”)
Now when the cameras turn to the direction of Stephen one by one and then finally Adil Ibrahim says – “Stephen”, you do realize that Prithviraj has a knack for this genre. Have to also say the editing in this entire sequence is ‘sharp’ !
As Stephen continues his march, you hear the instruction for the Police to go and control the crowd
But then watch out for how this policemen passes through Stephen without touching him.
As Stephen arrives the entrance, you could see Murugan unfolding his mundu as a sign of respect (and that it also indicated that he was on the side of Stephen all along is a take away you can have in second viewing)
And the superstar intro has a perfect finish as the scene ends with a series of cameras capturing Stephen Nedumpally. Was this an intentional tribute by Prithviraj to the intro scene in Rajavinte Makan( the 1986 film where Mohanlal became the superstar) when a photographer tries to capture Vincent Gomas as he arrives at the court ? This is a director who has done thorough homework for his debut movie. So you never know.

Read also – How Lucifer gave fine closure to all its characters

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