Moothon is dictated by two revelations that take the film forward. I am not going to tell what they are but it was quite stunning to see them. And one of them is something that you don’t get to really see a lot of in Indian cinema. Geethu Mohandas in her second film shows more control of her craft and that she’s not afraid to tackle some harsh truths. Though Moothon is set in a specific area, the feelings are universal. It is a film about those that leave the island in search of a better life. It is also about those people that stay on the island because they feel that they know better.
Presenting two sides of the same coin can be a bit tricky and it shows in Moothon‘s runtime. There are no scenes that feel out of place but you start to feel that we could have done with a little more exploration of each world. A particular highlight of Moothon is the camera work by Rajeev Ravi. He takes us through the grime of Mumbai’s gullys in such a thrilling fashion. I couldn’t help but wonder how they managed to get certain shots in such crowded areas. This is contrasted with the serene beauty of Lakshadweep and the difference jolts the viewer. It is this dichotomy that defines the film. Mohandas must be applauded for refusing to pull any punches. She gets down and dirty with the seedy part of Mumbai and is unafraid to show us the harsh realities of this life.
Moothon has a number of interesting characters that get their moment to shine but it is Nivin Pauly’s Bhai that steals the show. The actor does things we’ve never seen him do. It is quite startling to see the way he plays the two shades of this man. One of his best acting moments comes in the second half when he looks at the mirror. The way this scene is staged is quite brilliant. We get to see emotions that we don’t usually see from our leading men. It is breathtaking and at the same time refreshing. The cast is rounded off with some memorable performances from Sobhita Dhulipala, Roshan Matthew and Shashank Arora.
The real surprise of Moothon is the performance of little Sanjana Dipu who goes in search of the titular brother. The young actor’s combination of innocence and confusion is a fantastic contrast to the world weariness of the others. This counterpoint of Moothon makes the emotional reveals feel so much more devastating. Nivin has to be appreciated for taking on a role that required a lot of guts. We haven’t many mainstream heroes do this in a long long time. This is a performance that has to be and will be talked about for years to come. Moothon is a tale of what life is and what life can be. Too often we are caught in between both much like the people that Geetu Mohandas creates.
Manmarziyaan was one of the movies I was most excited about in 2018. Being a huge fan of Anurag Kashyap, seeing him tackle a love story that involved Vicky Kaushal, Taapsee Pannu and Abhishek Bachchan was reason enough to be excited. And just to be clear, I loved the film but I do have an issue with the way it ended. More on that later but for now, I’d like to talk about the rest of the film. The story of Manmarziyaan can be described in one line and it may not sound interesting. What makes the film work is the screenplay by Kanika Dhillon and of course, the performances. Though the two male leads do a really good job, the film clearly belongs to Taapsee’s Rumi. She is without a doubt one of the more interesting characters to come out of Hindi cinema in the recent past and it is hard to think of anyone else in that role. The way she buzzes around with this crackling energy is a sheer joy to watch. She internalizes the character to such an extent that every time we see her on screen, we only see Rumi.
As for the men, Vicky Kaushal as DJ Sandzz does what we have come to expect from him. He would have stolen the show but that honor belongs to Rumi for being such a captivating presence. We also have Abhishek’s Robbie who for most of the film is on the sidelines watching all the drama unfold. Though he doesn’t get as many dramatic moments as the other two, the quietness in his performance is something to behold. It brings a calmness to the happenings and the contrast between him and Rumi is beautiful to watch. He is one actor who I would consider to be underrated and hopefully, this film shows more people how good he can be.
Now, let’s get to that ending. Throughout the film, I was more curious about how it would end rather who she’ll pick. We know that at the end that Rumi has chosen Robbie but he is being set up with another girl. The way I see it, she should not have chosen Robbie for it felt like a more convenient way to wrap up the story. For a film that is so unconventional in its treatment, I wished that it had a different resolution. Having Robbie reject her, in the end, may have been a bit cruel on Rumi. But the way I see it, both these relationships would have led her to something even better. For those who criticize the film and Rumi for making changes to her decision, it is not always easy to make a choice when it is as important as this. She’s deciding the course of her life so, let us not be so hard on her. I’m not saying that this ending was wrong as such, it is just that there was an opportunity for the film to make to break even more ground. Manmarziyaan has not only given us some of the best performances of the year, it also gave us what is arguably the soundtrack of the year. Amit Trivedi brings out so many shades of his genius that one can just sit back in awe. Kashyap has had a great with both his films Mukkabaaz and this one doing well critically and commercially. If the next chapter of one of India’s most celebrated filmmakers involves scripts by Kanika Dhillon, the result is bound to be terrific.