Moothon movie cast: Nivin Pauly, Sobhita Dhulipal, Shashank Arora, Sujith Shankar
Moothon movie director: Geetu Mohandas
Moothon movie rating: 3 stars
First things first, a big shout out to Nivin Pauly for taking such a bold step to play Akbar in Moothon (Elder Brother). In the last 10 years, he has made a career by mostly making people laugh. He is innately hilarious and charmingly naive. And, his core fanbase is largely made up of women (of all age groups). He is the Prem Nazir of millennials. Legend has it that a significant number of young girls asked their boyfriends to grow a beard after watching Premam.
It must have taken a lot of courage for Nivin to step away from the glamour to enter the dark and demoralising world of Moothon. The film has been shot with natural light without traditional lighting setup. So most of the action that happen in the dark is hard to see. Director Geetu Mohandas and her cinematographer Rajeev Ravi have been very economical in using the light. The rustic frames add more to the gloomy ambience of the film.
This film shows even men fall victim to the same patriarchal social order that harm women. In a flashback scene, we see two men suffer in silence, kill their desires and destroy their lives because of societal pressure. Take, for example, the 14-year-old girl Mulla (Sanjana Dipu) who takes a dangerous journey to India’s city of dreams, Mumbai. She sets out from Lakshadweep to find her long lost brother. She is dressed like a boy, to hide the true identity of her gender for obvious reasons. Boy was she wrong. Not just girls, even defenceless young boys are not safe. And she learns that through traumatising experiences. The notion of safety that is associated with the male gender is shattered.
I am curious to know what was the genesis of this film. Did Geetu want to examine the absurdity of human existence? Or she wanted to show that karma is a…boomerang? Or a bit of both. There is no redemption for the characters that inhabit Moothon. And when you think why, you remember this is the chillingly uncompromising atmosphere that was co-authored by Anurag Kashyap. The fairytale-esque opening moments that suggest hope and magic is completely dismantled by the filmmakers as the film moves towards the end. Like Anurag’s Ugly, Geetu’s Moothon only gets darker by the minute as Rajeev’s camera explores the struggle for survival on the streets of Mumbai.
My major qualm is the events that change the fate of the characters doesn’t feel as natural as the film’s light. Yes, Akbar is a bottom feeder of Mumbai’s underbelly. He does some horrible things for survival. He is a horrible man. But, the revelations and their consequences that drive the narration have a few logical holes. Some developments feel artificial and forced so that the narration could head towards its pre-determined end.
The star cast of Moothon is a blessing for Geetu’s directorial. Sobhita Dhulipala, Shashank Arora and Sujith Shankar have delivered fine performances in this dark existential drama. And Nivin has passed with flying colours if his main aim was to gain credibility as a serious actor. The greasy face and filthy clothes that he has embraced in this film shows his commitment to cinema.