Grandmaster is a 2012 Indian neo-noir thriller film written and directed by B. Unnikrishnan, produced by Ronnie Screwvala and Siddharth Roy Kapur. The film stars Mohanlal in the lead role while Narain, Priyamani, Anoop Menon, Babu Antony and Jagathy Sreekumar play major supporting roles. The movie is loosely based on Agatha Christie's novel The A.B.C. Murders.
The film, produced by UTV Motion Pictures, released on 3 May 2012 and received mixed to positive reviews from critics. The film released through Netflix online video streaming by UTV in the U.S. and Canada. This is the first among new Malayalam films available for internet video streaming in the U.S. and Canada through Netflix.
MalluDeals.com gave Grand Master the ranking of No 5 among the Top 10 Malayalam Movies of 2012.
A policeman, Chandrasekhar, receives a series of letters challenging him to solve a series of murders of victims whose names are in alphabetical order. What is the connection between the victims and why does the killer seem to want Chandrasekhar to be directly involved?
Plot and Comparison with Christie's original story
(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)
Comparison with original story
- The victims are in alphabetical order. Each killing is preceded by a letter giving warning of the date and place which are also in alphabetical order. However in this case, the letters are signed off as coming from "Z".
- At the scene of each killing is placed an "ABC" book, although in this case, it is a book which teaches the writing of the alphabet and not a railway guide.
- The first victim's name is also "Alice" and like Alice Ascher, is a small business owner.
- The second victim is "Beena" and likely Betty Barnard, is flirtatious. She is killed while out on a date with the killer just like in the original.
- The third victim is "Chandrika", and also wealthy, just like Sir Carmichael in the original.
- Like in the original, the third letter comes too late, although this was not due to th wrong address. It was simply posted late. Like Poirot, Chandrasekhar surmises that this is because "C" was the most important person for the killer.
- Like the character of Cust, there is also a mentally disturbed person, Victor Rosetti, who is set up as a red herring. Rosetti is employed by a (fake) direct sales company. He is given lists and visits the locations of the murders just before the killings take place. Victor is also manipulated into thinking that he had committed the killings.
- Although the police identify the salesman quickly, Chandrasekhar, like Poirot realise that he cannot have committed the murders. To them, the killings were not done actions of a deranged man but the result of a carefully prepared plan made to seem like they were the actions of a deranged man.
- The motive in this case is not money or inheritance but revenge. There is a real connection between the victims in that they had been business partners in the past. The fact that their names run in alphabetical sequence is a coincidence.
- Like Poirot, Chandrasekhar adopts a highly psychological approach to solving the crime. Unlike Poirot, however, he has a direct interest in the case because it relates to a failed case of his many years in the past.
Chandrasekhar (Mohanlal) was once a highly efficient and successful police officer in the Kerala police but lost interest in his job and left the service after his wife divorced him and took his daughter away. Some nine years later, his superior in the police force, call him back to head the newly formed Metro Crime Stopper Cell in the city of Kochi. At first, Chandrasekhar is withdrawn and half-hearted in his work, preoccupied with household chores and spending his time on his hobby of chess. His superior grows impatient and wants to see results.
Things seem to change when three college girls are abducted by a psychologically deviant man named Jerome. By making logical deductions from the statements of witnesses, Chandrasekhar quickly solves the crime. He singlehandedly rescues the three girls and arrests Jerome. But his enthusiasm for his job is short-lived. He is upset when his ex-wife Deepthi, a successful criminal lawyer, and her friend a psychiatrist Dr Jacob Varghese successful argue that Jerome should be treated as a psychiatric case because the three girls have been mocking him and had provoked him into the abductions. Jerome is assigned to a psychiatric facility instead of being tried.
Chandrasekhar gets a congratulatory note from an anonymous man calling himself "Z", who challenges Chandrasekhar to figure out how he is going to bump off one target after the other. Chandrasekhar is forced to take up the investigation of a string of murders of three women, a coffee shop owner named Alice (Fathima Babu), famous singer Beena Thomson (Roma Asrani) and leading businesswoman Chandrika Narayanan (Seetha). These crimes follow a mysterious alphabetical pattern, and a cross slit has been made on each of the women's foreheads. Around the same time, Chandrasekhar is trying to contact his daughter, who is preparing for a play directed by a famous actor, Mark Roshan (Arjun Nandakumar).
Chandrasekhar reveals the story behind his separation with Deepthi to his senior officer. It regarded the murder case of a man named Paul Mathew, who died due to poison intake. He had an illegal affair with Chandrika and had helped her financially. Chandrasekhar was sure that it was a murder, also knowing the fact that Chandrika was with Paul even 20 minutes before his death; he even accused Chandrika for Paul's murder. While Chandrasekhar was discussing this case with his lawyer-wife Deepthi, she came to know about the alleviations and proofs regarding Chandrika's role in Paul's death. Later, while questioning Chandrika at her Guest-House, Chandrasekhar comes to know that Deepthi was Chandrika's lawyer and that she helped her to get through the case and used the evidence that Chandrasekhar had shown her for her professional gain, as Deepthi was just a beginner in her profession then. This, of course led to the separation between Chandrasekhar and Deepthi that plagued the former for 3 years.
It was later on that Deepthi finally confessed that the women that were murdered were all involved in the murder of Paul Mathew. She reveals that Paul had an interest in certain sexual activities, and had plans for marriage with Chandrika. She also reveals that Alice, who owned a small cloth-shop in Fort Kochi then, was Chandrika's secret partner. Slowly, Chandrika started taking advantage of his sexual interests, by bringing in Beena, who was then 16 year old. Gradually Alice, Beena, and Chandrika became a sex racket who blackmailed their customers. When Paul came to know the true colour of Chandrika, he withdrew his relationship with her and demanded back the money which had been in use all the while. So, Chandrika had no other way other than killing Paul, and to do so, she reconciles her relationship with him again after rubbing off the rough edges. It was then one day, with the support of Alice and Beena, Chandrika injected poison into his drink so that it would be certified as a suicide. It was then Deepthi felt that her inner mind never allowed her to confess before Chandrasekhar.
Believing that a friend or relative of Paul Mathew might be the one responsible for the murders and knowing that Deepthi is to become the next target, Chandrasekhar attends his daughter's play along with Deepthi and comes across a religious fanatic named Victor Rosetti (Babu Antony). It was assumed that Victor is responsible for the murders, as he was present in all the three crime scenes, in disguise as a salesman who came to sell products to the three ladies before the murders according to witnesses, and has been stalking Deepthi throughout the events. Just as Chandrasekhar finally manages to corner Victor on the rooftop of a theater, the latter commits suicide by falling off the rooftop to the pavement. Then he questions Dr. Jacob and Chandrasekhar says that he has evidence of suspecting him of being the killer of the three women. The scene is what then allows the real murderer to come in and strangling Deepthi with a red scarf, but he is stopped by Chandrasekhar at the last minute. Chandrasekhar then finally corners the real murderer in the theater stage, and he turns out to be none other than Mark himself, who then reveals himself to be the young brother of Paul Mathew.
Chandrasekhar then admits that he falsely accused Dr. Jacob in order to bait Mark into revealing himself as the culprit. When he confronts Mark of the evidence linking to the murders, Mark confessed that he has held a grudge against the women for his brother's death. He then reveals his ultimate plan: first, he pretended to be in love with Beena, and chose Alice Coffee Pub as their meeting place. He had forced Beena not to reveal his identity in any manner. Then, he kills Alice on February 10 by strangling her to death. On February 23, after Beena was done with her program,he went for a night drive with her, and gifted her a red scarf as a present of love and strangled her to death with the same. Then came March 1, and it was Chandrika's turn, and he strangled her to death with the same red scarf. Mark also confessed that, under the disguise of a priest, he has manipulated Victor (who is revealed to be a schizophrenic patient) into believing that he did the murders himself in order to cover his tracks. He also planned for Victor to commit the final murder on Deepthi during the play, but knowing that Victor would be caught, he would attempt to use the scenery of the fight between Chandrasekhar and Victor to complete his plan. In a last-minute attempt to avenge his brother, Mark tries to jump from the stage to murder Deepthi with a dagger, but is shot to death by Chandrasekhar, thus saving Deepthi's life. The film then ends with Chandrasekhar and Deepthi, along with their daughter, finally together again in their house.
- Mohanlal as Chandrasekhar IPS
- Priyamani as Adv. Deepthi
- Anoop Menon as Jacob
- Narain as Kishore
- Jagathy Sreekumar as Rashid
- Babu Antony as Victor Rosetti
- Arjun Nandakumar as Mark Roshan
- Roma Asrani as Beena
- Siddique as Paul Matthew
- Devan as ADGP [Additional Director General of Police, Kerala]
- Seetha as Chandrika
- Sreelekshmi as Dakshayini Chandrasekhar
- Riyaz Khan as Jerome Jacob
- Mithra Kurian as Bindya Matthew
- Rajshri Nair as Susan
- Manikuttan as Amal Kuriakose
- Ambika Mohan as Chandrasekhar's mother
It was reported by the producer that its theme is very fresh and racy with lots of variety situations. Grandmaster is the first production venture of Bollywood production company UTV Motion Pictures in Malayalam. Priyamani, who has some acclaimed Malayalam films under her belt, was chosen to play the female lead after she expressed her desire to feature in a film alongside Mohanlal. "This is an important role, but, from the looks of it, will not pair her romantically opposite him. Yet, she will be seen in many scenes opposite Mohanlal. This is going to be a role that requires someone who can set the screen on fire. So, the makers felt that she would be a good bet, considering her previous releases in Mollywood," says a source.
Shooting of the film started from December 2011 and was carried out primarily at two locations: Kochi and Ottapalam.
The story of the film draws inspiration from Agatha Christie's detective novel The A.B.C. Murders. The characterisation of Chandrasekhar, the film's lead character, is also inspired by Hercule Poirot, the protagonist of the novel as well as the Swedish detective, Wallander.
Grandmaster was expected to be released on 27 April 2012, but subsequently was postponed due to non-availability of theatres. The movie was released on 3 May 2012. Boxofficeverdicts commented that Grandmaster may have lost the buzz around it during past couple of weeks, but shall prove to be a profitable venture for its distributors, with a bit of help from the whopping satellite rights amount which it managed to fetch. As per reports, it can now be confirmed that Surya TV has gained the rights for as much as 3.25 crore, however, in the initial stages it was widely believed that the price would be much less. The film earned 8 crore in its 60 day theatrical run.
Rediff.com rated the film 3.5 out of 5. Sify's critic rated the movie as "watchable" (3.5/5) and said "Grandmaster easily turns out to be an engaging watch".
As an investigative thriller, Grandmaster has managed to do well at the boxoffice. It made a profitable openingn considering its genre, and the absence of pre-release hype, unlike some of Mohanlal's previous ventures. As the word of mouth spread, the movie did manage to face off the challenge posed by Mallu Singh and later by Diamond Necklace. Though not an outright success, the movie did make more than industry average profits. The movie had a total gross of ₹7 crores and declared as hit.
- Kerala State Film Award
- Best Male Singer - Vijay Yesudas
- Asiavision Movie Awards 2012
- Best Actor - Mohanlal