Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Mozhi


The phrase 'realistic movie' usually raises visions of a sad or violent film that doesn't take a familiar masala route when dealing with familiar issues. But director Radhamohan proved in Azhagiya Theeye that a realistic movie can be made by focusing on the brighter side of life too. And he does it again in Mozhi. With down-to-earth characters facing everyday issues, he fashions a movie that is sweet and charming and offers a wonderful, welcome change of pace from the loudness, violence and glamour of Tamil movies today.

Karthik(Prithviraj) and Vijaykumar(Prakashraj) are keyboard players who score background music for movies. Karthik falls in love with Archana(Jyothika) and learning that she is a deaf-mute only strengthens his love. Understanding that Archana is against love, he decides to become her friend first and Archana's friend Sheila(Swarnamalya) paves the way for that. But for Karthik, the path to Archana's heart proves to be a bumpy ride even after that.

Mozhi comes as an antidote to viewers sick of the glamor and violence in Tamil cinema. The subtlety of the humor, the cleanliness of the romance, the down-to-earth nature of the characters - all these come as a relief in the current atmosphere of larger-than-life heroes, bloody violence, loud comedy, glamorous romance and over-the-top sentiments. Mozhi's first scene, from a 'regular' film about a rich girl-poor boy love story, shown under the pretext of Prithviraj and Prakashraj scoring music for it, almost seems like Radhamohan's way of telling us "this is how Tamil movies usually are. Now see how different my film is gonna be!"

Radhamohan has a wonderful knack for mining humor out of normal, everyday situations and that is Mozhi's biggest strength. The film does have its share of fights, sadness and sentiments but it keeps us smiling through all of that. This may be because of the good naturedness of its characters or the humorous lines or the explicit gags but the fact is, we keep smiling. Almost everyone has atleast a couple of lines that make us laugh(maybe because of its unexpectedness, I laughed the most at a line uttered by Jo's grandma to Brahmanandam, about a prospective suitor he previously picked for Jo) and most importantly, they make us laugh without seeming to try too hard. There are also a few segments designed for laughs but surprisingly, these don't work as well. The punchline for these is clear long before and since there are no surprises, the impact is diluted and so, the resulting laughs are muted.

The four main characters populating Mozhi are likeable and when you have characters like this headlining a movie, it is no surprise that the movie itself ends up being likeable. Be it Prithviraj's sincerity, Prakashraj's frankness, Jo's self-confidence or Swarnamalya's eagerness to see the best happen for her friend, they are well-defined characteristics that help us quickly warm up to the characters. These four main characters are surrounded by a few other memorable characters and Radhamohan reminds us of the KB of old in the way he gives importance to even the smallest characters and makes sure they have a nice character arc in the little time they have.

Inspite of none of the characters having a bad bone in them, the movie's conflicts don't seem artificial or forced. There are two main conflicts and both make sense considering the backgrounds of the characters involved. They also lead to some of the best segments in the movie. Prithviraj's explanation of how Jo can contribute to his music and his pointed questions to Jo near the end both feature some wonderful lines. The climax is quite predictable and simple. It is short and realistic and in keeping with the tone of the rest of the film. But considering the delightful climax in Azhagiya Theeye where too the end was fully predictable, the ordinary climax here is a little disappointing.

In the line of directors like KB and Cheran, Radhamohan appears to be another director who is capable of exploiting the medium of cinema well. He has a number of deft touches(like the clever and hilarious ways he finds to represent the onset of love) that prove that pictures are worth a thousand words. And his imagination and sense of humor jointly provide a number of memorable segments (like Prithviraj's walk to experience the world the way Jo does).

I've admired Jo's growth as an actress but there never was any doubt that she was 'acting'. But here, for probably the first time, she is completely natural. Her expressions and body language as she talks with her hands are wonderful and the smoothness with which she does her sign language is a real surprise. She probably worked real hard at it and it has paid off. Its only when she has to show serious emotions like anger that the actress in her rears her head. Whatever the fate of the movie at the box office, as an actress, Jo is definitely going out on top. As he proved in Paarijaatham, Prithviraj has wonderful comic flair. He is very expressive and has a natural charm that makes most of his jokes work. Prakashraj is a revelation. The actor, who lately has been stuck in villain and character roles, gets to do comedy here and he is excellent. He has a number of good lines(like his conversation with Swarnamalya near the end) which he delivers perfectly and shares great chemistry with Prithviraj(the sequence where Prakashraj narrates his proposal is one of the funniest in the movie). Swarnamalya makes good use of her comeback opportunity and does well though she mostly has to serve as foil to one of the other three. Baskar impresses in a serious role while Brahmanandam delivers laughs as the harried apartment secretary.

Songs are well-placed and Vidyasagar's melodious tunes and Radhamohan's picturization make sure they don't turn into cigarette breaks. The picturization of Sevvaanam Selaiyai... captures the spirit of the song and is fun (Jo gets to wear a lot of costumes in this and the split-second view of her in a police dress makes us wish she had gotten a full-length policewoman role). Kannaal Pesum Penne... takes the next spot with some imaginative and energetic picturization. Kaatrin Mozhi... is picturized perfectly on the foursome while Pesaa Madandhaiye... is suitably sober inspite of the unnecessary group dancers.

34 Comments:

At 10:49 PM, Blogger srivatsan said...

I guess a 3 *** (keeping in mind it's Jo's last movie :-)

I'm looking forward for Paruthi Veeran's review! (after really good indiaglitz and behindwoods review)

 
At 11:37 PM, Anonymous Sandya said...

I would not be surprised at a 3.5 star rating from Balaji actually. No flaws mentioned in his review were big enough to dock an entire star down (or so it seems!).

I'm hoping I get to see this film, this Saturday night (if I am fortunate! :-)

Go Prakashraj.. we need more and more producers like you to give tamil cinema fresh perspectives and approaches..

 
At 12:14 AM, Blogger srivatsan said...

sandya,

Recently BB has been a little strict in star system, or a very long hangover from Masala mode, so it takes something special or 3.5 stars :)

 
At 1:03 AM, Anonymous ram said...

i am happy to see a +ve review...and of course some typical Balaji joll-liners such as...

Jo gets to wear a lot of costumes in this and the split-second view of her in a police dress makes us wish she had gotten a full-length policewoman role...

ungalukku mattum thaan thonum idhelaam!!! naane thevala...esp. now, i am in an adakki-vaasichals stage ;-)

 
At 1:59 AM, Blogger Reagan said...

The movie was good, in fact it was enjoyable. But unlike anyone else who was raving about Jo's performance, I strongly believe that Jo's performance was the sole sore point of the film. Her expressions were definitely irritable at times when she has to emote. She underplayed her character perfectly fine at the beginning but as the movie tends proceed, the seriousness in her character that she had to show fully justified my thoughts that Jo cant act.

 
At 6:45 AM, Blogger Me too said...

Thumbs-up[Three, 1 for (Producer) Prakashraj, 1 for RadhaMohan and 1 for Prithviraj(you can substitute with Jo!)!] for Muzhi, oops, sorry, Mozhi, huh?

 
At 7:36 AM, Anonymous narm said...

I enjoyed the movie as well, for its music, humour and acting.

But more than that, I liked the underlying theme of how human psyche is shaped by our experiences. Jo's character is independent and strong right from the beginning, but she still has to overcome her own personal fears to find happiness. And that is something that is rarely addressed in our movies.

 
At 9:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved the movie.I felt Prithviraj exceled in his role.Look at his body language and he is at ease with serious roles/comedy/villiany. He has won the kerala state award for Vasthavam.You have to watch that movie to see how he excels through various shades of the character.

Mozhi is like a breath of fresh air with simple lines making you laugh .On the whole a sweet romantic feel good movie having a couple of heavy moments.
Especially when Jo gets a feel of music at Prithvis house with her hands on the speaker and Bhaskar breaking down.Lovely

 
At 10:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought movie had nothing new and was pretty boring .. Same old stale story and dunno what's special in this movie..
And the ending was predictable and nothing great to it..
Guys.. I dunno about y'all but I am sick of same old tamil stories.
Preethi

 
At 11:42 AM, Anonymous Sandya said...

So, Srivatsan, you don't think Balaji will give the film 3.5 stars? I will bet with you that he will. There wasn't a single flaw that seemed too big to dock a full star from 4 stars to 3 stars, in his review.

If he was kanjam with a film like Pokkiri, I can understand.. but I think he really liked this film as much as he did Imsai Arasan last year (of course, you can't compare the two genres. But he could very well have enjoyed this film at par with Imsai.. and I thought he had pointed out a lot more flaws in Imsai than in this, which made me suspect that it may not have gotten as many stars than what he finally gave it: 3.5! :-) ;-).

 
At 12:10 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

srivatsan, right :)

sandya, yeah its a 3 * movie. felt about the same as 'azhagiya theeye'. sweet, nice, charming, etc. but not a great movie or a classic. the straightforward, ordinary climax was a minus :)

looks like i really need to post something on my stars rating. seems like some readers are spending more time wondering about it than i do awarding it :)

ram, "esp. now, i am in an adakki-vaasichals stage" - thats the only reason nee thevala :) btw, r u back in the US?

reagan, i felt the same about jo(spontaneous initially but then 'acting' as role demanded seriousness). but since i'm a big fan, the words just came out a li'l differently :)

me too, yep, a definite thumbs up :)

narm, very nicely put. and very correct too. she is all brave and aggressive but when it comes to her personal life, she had own fears to conquer. prithviraj points this out wonderfully in his monologue to her :)

anon, completely agree. prithviraj has been fantastic in all his 3 movies so far. very versatile...

preethi, 1st time i've heard anything -ve about the film. i agree with the story being nothing new and the end being predictable. but its always how the story is handled that makes a difference and thats what mattered here.

 
At 12:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I respectfully disagree with ur opinion about the movie..
I believe a good movie should have solid & innovative storyline with good screen play and meaningful dialogues and flawless narration.
Kadhai+Thiraikadhai+Vasanam+Iyakkam
0+0+1+1 = 2(**)stars
So, this movie is just crap..
Preethi

 
At 2:04 PM, Anonymous Sandya said...

Preethi, So I'd assume that you don't give any credence to cinematography, music, editing, dance choreography, lyrics or the like in your star ratings.. You have only mentioned, story, screenplay, dialogs and direction as the 4 components for a good film..

I respectfully disagree with your components in what makes a good movie. I find it simplistic and even childish to break a movie into four components and give it marks based on the four components alone. Filmmaking is about aesthetics and not only about raw materials and components.. I'm sure we have to evaluate how the 'art' is handled sometimes over how the individual components are handled when we evaluate certain kind of films. That said, maybe Mozhi deserves that evaluation as well.

 
At 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anon21 said...

If every movie had an innovative storyline, we would probably only get 1 movie every 3 or 4 years.

It would be interesting to find out how those people that didn't like Mozhi would rate it when compared to, say, Sivakasi or that last Simbu starrer (the title of which I haven't even bothered to remember).

 
At 8:27 PM, Blogger Babs said...

"I believe a good movie should have solid & innovative storyline with good screenplay and meaningful dialogues and flawless narration"

So whats Great movie then? :-)

"looks like i really need to post something on my stars rating. seems like some readers are spending more time wondering about it than i do awarding it :)"

LOL, Good one Balaji :-)

 
At 10:49 PM, Blogger V.P.Jaiganesh said...

Good collection of your thoughts on the movie. I haven't seen the movie yet. Will definitely watch it, not coz it is jo's last (Ah I am happy that it will be her last!!) , but for experiencing the kinda fun I had while watching Azhagiya Theeye. coming to your review, The opening segment of a movie within movie and your insights are something I would take it with a pinch of salt. Parthiban Kanavu(the recent one) also had a similar opening and reading too much that this is how the director wants to show that he intends to make a different movie is , according to me, a reflection of your yearning to see a different treatment and not what the director intended. This is a disease that all bloggers blogging movie reviews suffer from. Their own perceptions and psyche interpreting movies at a level that the maker didn't intend to.
Mozhi looks like a feel good movie with ample scope for performance and witty dialogues. Giving no serious observation of your star rating system (any star rating system is flawed in my opinion), I guess this is one movie I must watch along with my wife and have a good time on a weekend.

 
At 11:23 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

preethi, that rating system does seem a tad simplistic. but even by those rules, i'd give another star for thiraikkadhai since it made a simple story eminently watchable...

jaiganesh, unless u've actually talked to radhamohan, i dont see how u can say that that wasnt his intention with that first scene. i say "...it seems like..." which means that that was the impression i got from that sequence.

and those "own perceptions and psyche" are what make each movie review unique. caling that a disease simply reveals a lack of understanding of what a review is supposed to be(an individual's thots about a movie). and saying that it is at "a level the maker didn't intend to" is simply an insult to the maker...

 
At 8:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to say this.. But you guys seem to be Jo fan or Prakash raj fan and so just raving about the movie.. Inorder to be a critic, you have to be unbiased and neutral..
This movie is nothing but rehash of an old story..
Balaji.. Story is old and so the screenplay is 0.. But I did give 1 star for the dialogues.

 
At 2:19 PM, Anonymous Sandya said...

Hmmm.. Anonymous.. do you realize that there is no such thing as "unbiased".. The minute you say you 'like' something whether it be something in a movie, a song, or even something as generic as clothes or icecream you buy at a store, you have 'biased' yourself.

Someone who doesn't like or dislike something cannot write a truthful and honest review, because opinions are what make movie reviews worth something. Anytime you write a review, you are 'for all practical purposes' giving what you interpret, understand and to some extent, appreciate or abhor about the film..

To say that someone can be neutral and unbiased and write a review is once again, being very simplistic and ignorant..

Unbiased and Neutral are characteristics similar to trying to attain Nirvana.. 99% of humans on this planet who have some 'desire' for life, wealth, health, lust and the lot.. can't achieve it.. Let alone write a review with those achievements intact! ;-)

 
At 9:01 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

Guys, comments with personal attacks will be deleted. Personal opinions and arguments are fine but lets keep it civil please :)

 
At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BBaLs.. Then I suggest u delete some of sandhya's comments to keep it civil ..

 
At 12:34 PM, Anonymous Sandya said...

Yeah, maybe you should, Balaji! (especially since I called so many people names, denigrated them, put down others' opinions and called them 'crazy!'):-) ;-)

Surely, please do! ;-) ;-)

 
At 8:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just watched Mozhi. Haven't had such a good laugh in a long time. Whole theater was laughing for most of the first half. I was a bit bored with the frequency of the songs. But as far as the other part of the films go, everything worked great. Great dialogues...extremely touchy. Prithvi has done a great job and he looks smashing. Jo was very good in a couple of scenes...especially when she had her hands on the speaker. She looked gorgeous in the final scenes in that sari. Prakashraj was awesome. Vivek has competition!!! Otherwise, another hats off to the writer.

Big applause to Prakashraj. We need more films like Mozhi in Tamil. We need more producers like Prakashraj.

-kajan

 
At 10:35 AM, Blogger Sundar Narayanan said...

Balaji, finally saw Mozhi.

:)

that last song, I just closed my eyes and listened. It was awesome.. the funny thing is that I was soooo sure that it was vijay Yesudas who was singing the song. today I open musicindiaonline and I see Madhu balakrishnan as the singer ??

never heard of this dude before ? another KJY student ?

 
At 7:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Madhu Balakrishnan is a Keralite singer, whose popular numbers in Tamil are Kana Kandenadi and Konja Neram Konja Neram. He has been singing for quite a while now, but has just gotten very popular last few years. He sings in all the Tamil languages. Vijay's voice and his are sort of similar, but I think Madhu is the more accomplished singer. Madhu is one of those Keralites who have that strong classical background. Besides that, he is actually married to Indian cricketeer Sreesanth's sister.

-kajan

 
At 11:32 PM, Anonymous Murugan said...

Dont agree with your review. An overhyped film this. When prakash raj & Co have a good time, all they do is clown around and laugh unnaturally. Especially irritating is the scene when the 4 have dinner and the secretary of the apt arrives to be told to get lost by Jo. The antics of both the raj's in this particular scene make you want to slap them. MOZHI -THE 'FEEL GOOD' is MANUFACTURED.

 
At 11:49 PM, Anonymous Murugan said...

It is actually -- to be "signed" to get lost by Jo-- not "told" -

 
At 3:42 AM, Blogger Societal Anger said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 5:44 AM, Blogger Charlie said...

The name of the song for which Prakash Raj dances and his towel falls of is called hava Nagila. Its an Hebrew Song ;)

 
At 6:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The song that Prakshraj dances for is "Hava Nageela", a traditional hebrew song. The version I've heard and have on tape is sung by Harry Belafonte.

Faffer

 
At 5:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing special about this movie. I happened to watch this movie twice (majboori types) and both the times I felt it was boring and slow paced. This movie is over rated - not meaty.

 
At 7:34 PM, Blogger Karthic said...

On the prakash raj towel song, I don't think it is Hava Nagila. Hava Nagila has a different tune and the tune was used in Vikram by illayaraja(en jodi vanja kurvi...)
I saw somewhere that it was Jaled Hartkella...not sure.

 
At 11:41 PM, Blogger N. Ramjee said...

Hi, if you would like to listen to the piece Hava Nagila and several other popular ones by Harry Belafonte look up my blog:
http://ramjeenagarajan.blogspot.com/2008/04/harry-belafonte.html Enjoy!

 
At 4:45 AM, Blogger krishnamoorthi said...

jothika asin biodata
www.tamilmoviestoday.blogspot.com

 

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