Moothon – A Better Life

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.

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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.

Until next time, bye.

 

The Hangout Series #5 – Premam

It is four years to the day of the release of one of my favorite films, Premam. And I’d like to warn you that this post will be more of a celebration than anything else. Not that the film is beyond criticism, its just that I don’t feel that there is any nitpicking required here. It is a celebration of life, love, friendship and everything in between. So, instead of trying to analyze the film, I’d like to put forward a few reasons why Premam is an enduring classic.

The characters – when a film focuses more on the people rather than the story, you need to have characters that are interesting and ones that we can relate to. This is where Premam is stacked with from top to bottom. Even characters that appear for a scene alone add so much vibrancy to the proceedings. A good example of this would be Jude Anthany Joseph who plays a dance master.

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Sai Pallavi – making her debut, she makes an impression that is simply unforgettable. Whether it is her dialogue delivery, the cute reactions, the dancing and the emotional impact later on in her arc, everything works wonderfully. You do not feel that she is a newbie as she has that magic element of Malayalam cinema, naturalism.

The camera – although Premam didn’t invent a new visual language, the way it was shot was quite different. In many ways, it felt like the camera was a character on its own. It kept shifting from one spot to another like a butterfly, an important motif of the film. The camera would be tracking one person, but we would be hearing dialogue from two people far away. Sounds simple but the effect is unique and makes the frame more lively. Credit has to be given to the decisions made by director Alphonse Puthren who infuses Premam with some visual and aural mastery.

Nivin Pauly – we travel with George David (Nivin Pauly) in three stages of his life and the difference in his personality is palpable. We buy his actions because he makes them believable be it the shy schoolboy, the rugged college boy and the world-weary entrepreneur. Each stage feels different and the aforementioned camera work amplifies that effect brilliantly. Premam simply would not have worked without Nivin’s performance and the response from the audience shows this. I would like to finish by requesting Alphonse Puthren to make more movies, the world needs to see your craft on display again.

Until next time, bye.