Mumbai Film Festival Opens with Malayalam Title, Geethu Mohandas' Moothon
Moothon, starring Nivin Pauly and Sobhita Dhulipala, has the usual drama of junkies and car chases and violence – all of these followed by retribution and reconciliation.
The Mumbai Film Festival opened technically on October 17, but its inaugural movie, Geetu Mohandas' Malayalam title, Moothon (The Elder One), was screened only yesterday -- a day after. Whatever be the reason. Moothon had its Asia Premiere at Mumbai and had its world premiere at the recent Toronto Film Festival.
Actress-turned writer-director Mohandas' second feature after the road drama, Liar's Dice, Moothon reminded me of a Dickensian world (of suffering boys, brutalised and bruised ) – transported to the streets of Mumbai that sees the horrible plight of Mulla (Santana Dipu). He runs away from his home in Lakshadweep looking for his elder brother, played by Nivin Pauly. Called Bhai, the brother had left home years ago, and Mulla with his parents dead and ill-treated by a fisherman relative takes a boat and sets out. He braves and survives a terrible ocean storm to land in Mumbai. Wow.
Moothon runs like a fairy tale, only that the only fairy here is a prostitute (Sobhita Dhulipala), but Mulla, despite her presence, is constantly chased, beaten and humiliated, and when the brother tries to sell him off (why we have no idea), things come crashing down. And much like so many Indian films, Moothon makes a u-turn.
Unfortunately, the work often appears jumbled, an overactive editing here must take the blame for this. Sometimes, the Hollywood style of treatment does not quite work for what are essentially Indian stories set in a very Indian milieu.
Moothon has the usual drama of junkies and car chases and violence – all of these followed by retribution and reconciliation. There is even a gay story infused into the main narrative, and this has been handled with such trepidation that it fails to convince.
In the end, Mohandas falls prey to the usual Indian concept of what cinema should be; it must give us many things at one sitting, and in the process Moothon fumbles and falters.
Yes, Pauly is just superb, but weak writing does impede his style, and the core plot of one sibling moving heaven and earth to find another is hardly novel. We have seen this so often on the Indian screen, really.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is an author, commentator and movie critic)
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