Mozhi reiterates that one can indeed make simple, heartwarming, human stories within the mainstream format and what’s more connect hugely with audiences as well. The well-intentioned film has much going for it and it is heartening to see that it was a huge success at the box-office thus confirming the fact that a good, human story always works. One has to commend actor-producer Prakash Raj for making this film on the love story of a musician and a deaf mute girl who would never be able to hear his music.
First and foremost, the film, helmed by Radha Mohan, has to be saluted for its treatment of Jyotika’s character, Archana. She lives a normal life, is most matter-of-fact about her muteness and deafness and is in fact a very strong character. The film fortunately doesn’t delve into issues of pity and forced kindness and this ‘normalcy’ gives Mozhi much of its strength. The scenes where Archana matter-of-factly explains to Karthik that she cannot hear or speak or when she asks him to give her the seashell so she too could listen to the sound inside and then laughs at his awkwardness define her character beautifully. Actually, not just Jyotika even Swarnamalya ‘s Sheela is a woman who is very much in control of herself and it is refreshing to see real and strong urban women in a Tamil mainstream film.
The tone of the film and the worlds it is exploring (of both silence and music) is set right from the opening sequence where we see a film going on with just dialogue and having an obvious lack of sound in parts of the scene appearing rather strange. Then we see that we are actually in a recording studio where Prithviraj and Prakash Raj are keyboard players giving background muisc for the film in progress. The scene is replayed with the music in place and yes, appears normal. Point well-made.
The film shows us how effective simple storytelling with well-fleshed out characters and memorable moments can be as the film uses humour effectively even in some of the more serious situations. All the major characters are believable and draw you into their world thus getting you involved with them and their problems. The relationships between the various characters are well-worked out while taking all the possible combinations and permutations into account. Prithviraj and Prakash Raj share a likeable chemistry as do the two women and the group of four too share an easy rapport that comes across on screen. The romantic track of Prithviraj falling for Jyotika too is another strength of the film. Small touches like the gifts they give each other – the violen made of soap and the musical watch – are well-integrated into the main storyline and have a proper role to play in key sequences of the film. The screenplay is well aided by some extremely witty dialogue particularly through Prakash Raj’s character although here I have to admit I am going by the subtitled dialogue on the DVD, which itself was funny enough. The ‘gimmick’ of light bulbs coming on and bells ringing to signify the men falling in love has one smiling each time it happens.
That isn’t to say the film is without its share of flaws. The Brahmanandam comedy track or the track of the girl who has eyes only for Prithviraj doesn’t work as well as rest of the film and neither do the comedy sequences between Prakash Raj and Brahmanandam – especially when Prakash Raj thinks Brahmanandam is gay (or bisexual). All this takes up precious time in the film at the cost of the main story. Even scenes like Jyotika’s dog chasing Prithviraj all over have now been done to death and could well have been avoided. The professor caught in a time warp too is not really necessary or that integral to the main story and it is here that the film tries to be obviously sensitive and falls into sentimental territory once we know the old man’s past. The love story between Swarnamalya and Prakash Raj is never shown developing so it is most unconvincing when it happens espaecially as there are no private moments shown between them as the foursome are bonding. Why is it all the other characters barring Prithviraj and Prakash Raj have just loaded and tragic pasts?
Prithviraj shows just why he is regarded as such a great actor by both the Malayalam and Tamil film industry. He is absolutely brilliant in the film be it in the comic moments, romantic scenes as well as the emotional ones, not striking a false note at all in the film. Just see him when he plugs cotton in his ears and goes out into the cacophonic world so he can feel Jyotika’s world of silence or his attempts to make Jyotika ‘feel’ his music or even when he finally turns on Jyotika telling her she is destroying her own life. It is truly a superlative performance. Prakash Raj’s comic timing is spot on and he is in reliably efficient form. His scene of proposing to Swarnamalya is hilarious and his general goofiness is endearing even if you do feel he is too old for a role of this type. Swarnamalya more than ably supports the lead cast though Brahmanandam’s comedy is out of place in a film of this sort. MS Baskar manages to move you with his performance as the man caught in 1984, unable to come to terms with his son’s death but as mentioned, this was not a very necessary track in the film.
That leaves us with Jyotika’s central performance as the deaf and mute Archana. It is an earnest and fine performance, no doubt, but inconsistent. Not having the aid of dialogue, she does emote nicely with her eyes and is impressive enough in her more serious moments. In fact, she is extraordinary in the sequence where she feels Prithviraj’s music through the speakers while trying to keep a tab on his hand movement at the same time. But in the lighter scenes she is undoubtely OTT. It doesn’t help her that her final breakdown in the end is ruined by over-cutting through close shots of her lips, eyes etc.
Technically, the camerawork is simple, unobtrusive and complements the film perfectly. Vidyasagar’s music works well (Kaatrin Mozhi in particular) though the background score is obvious in trying to artificially milk every emotion it can. This was not really needed as the film has you emotionally involved and works well-enough. The songs where the foursome bond and the one where Prithviraj tries to get Jyotika to forgive him are nicely picturised but not the opening song where he imagines Jyothika in various tough women avatars or the sad song after their separation. They go against the grain of the film and seem like unnecessary ‘commercial’ compromises. Special mention has to made of AS Laxmi Narayanan’s sound design, so essential to the film. The length of the film does tell and a film of this type should have been 2 hours at best.
All in all, Mozhi is a feel-good and heartwarming film that is well, well worth a watch.
Tamil, Romance, Drama, Color