What kind of futility is it to attempt to speak a few words about Mozhi, a movie that magically transports you into a world where words lose all meaning!
I didn’t know till a couple of days ago that Mozhi was supposed to be Jyotika’s last movie. After three hours of the movie, I come out with mixed reactions. Verily, this is Jo’s best ever performance. Why, this is one of the best ever by a leading lady in Tamil! And she’s quitting movies. Perhaps the only consolation is that she just might not get a bigger, better role than this. So retiring on a high is good after all, than just staying on and fading away.
So what’s Mozhi all about, you wonder? Karthik and Viji (Prithiviraj and Prakash Raj) are two musicians who work for Vidyasagar, the music director. They love their music, but they love fun much more. They get into a new apartment, and have lots of run-ins with Mr. Ananthakrishnan, the secretary of the apartment, the first of a lot of interesting characters about to enter into their lives. But none better than the bold and beautiful Archana (Jyotika) who pummels a wife-beater on the road.
Karthik takes an instant liking to her, and tries to “make friendship” with her. Unlike in Pachaikili Muthucharam, Jyotika doesn’t even speak to him and walks away. Only later does he get to know that she is deafmute and that she dislikes men, and in general anyone who tries to get into her silent, even melancholic world. A smitten Karthik tries all the usual tricks (walking the dog, early morning jog etc) and becomes Archana’s friend. With the help of Sheela (Swarnamalya, in an Alaipayuthey-like role), he even learns the sign language to communicate with her. All through, Prakash Raj is with him, and the pair of them have you in splits all the time.
As the months wear on, Karthik wants to marry Archana, but is unsure about how she will respond to it. At one point, he is just so overcome with emotion that he asks for her hand in marriage. But her insecurity, and the impregnable wall of prejudices she has built around herself lead to retreating back into her shell. Will the language of love dawn on her?
In an interview last week, Prakash Raj told Anu Hassan that he admires a few actors because they are “director’s actors” – Prasanna, Mahesh Babu, Prithviraj. Prithvi as Karthik is fantastic, in a role which he named as his best. Sometimes taking the lead, and sometimes playing second fiddle to Prakash Raj, he excels across all scenes. Humour comes naturally, and in the serious scenes, he is pretty good too. His encounters with MS Bhaskar (who plays an absent-minded gentleman) are hilarious to begin with, and as he learns more about his condition, touching. The pick of the scenes is the one in which he simulates music to Jyotika like Adrian Brody does without touching his piano in The Pianist.
Prakash Raj has just as a big role as his co-musician. And the more you see him on screen as Viji, the more you wonder why he signs up to do the usual villain roles. Take Pokkiri for instance. He was wasted. It is an affront on this man’s acting talent that people even think of calling him to act in run-of-the-mill roles. In the same interview Prakash Raj revealed that he needed money to produce movies, and for that he will accept any role. Ok, agreed. If Mozhi is what we get in return, I’ll take the deal. Prakash Raj as Viji is hilarious through and through. As if his presence were not enough to bring a smile…
Swarnamalya returns to screen with a role reminiscent of Alaipaayuthey. As the person who understands Jyotika the best, she serves as a bridge between her and Prithviraj.
Jyotika. All I can say is Tamil cinema will give her a reluctant farewell. இதுவரை குறும்பினை மட்டுமே வெளிப்படுத்திய ஜோதிகாவின் கண்கள் இப்படத்தில் ஒரு வகை அழுத்தத்தையும், வார்த்தைகளுக்கு அப்பாற்பட்ட சோகத்தையும் காண்பிக்கின்றன. Her eyes, which have depicted only kurumbu till date speak a melancholy that rises from the depth of her despair and her dislike for the world, and its fickle people. Be it in scenes which require of her very subtle change of emotions, or the ones in which we witness her violent moodswings, Jyotika has delved into the depth of her acting prowess and produced a performance that will remain etched in memory for a long, long time.
I was so impressed with Rinko Kikuchi’s performance as the deafmute Chieko in Alejandro Inarritu’s Babel, so much that the only Oscar category I was interested in was the one for Best Supporting Actress. And I even felt that an award for Rinko (she didn’t win though) would be a vindication of Jyotika’s performance in Mozhi. Yes, Jo is just so good.
Vidyasagar’s music is mesmerising, each song competing with the other for attention. Many music reviews have already rated the album highly. A big plus is that each song has been shot excellently, which adds to the effect. Perhaps because of the picturisation, I find myself liking “Sevvaanam Selai Katti” the best. Kaatrin Mozhi should feature in everyone’s list of the best ten songs of the year. The three short songs — Aazha Kannaal, En Jannanil, Mouname Unnidam — are also very good.
Of Radhamohan, the director, little needs to be said that has already not been revealed. After capturing many hearts with a no-nonsense romantic comedy in Azhagiya Theeye, the man who Prakash Raj reveals as his best find ever has put in such a fine job it is tough to spot one superfluous dialogue, let even an unnecessary scene. No melodrama. No fights. No nonsense. K.V. Guhan’s camerawork is excellent. The art direction in this movie requires a special mention. It will be impossible to miss the excellent interior decorations.
To sum up, Mozhi isn’t just super; it is superlative. It is the work of people who love cinema, people who are passionate about cinema. And it is for people who are passionate about good cinema. To such devotees of movies, Mozhi is nothing short of a pilgrimage.
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