Indian Cinema hasn’t gone much progressive when it comes to gender politics. Especially the representation of LGBT/GLBT communities. However, among the few films that have put forward the debate of aforesaid, it looks forced & fussy. We aren’t really in a stage where it could be shown organically, yeah, there is miles to reach there. But in Moothon, Geethu Mohandas gives a masterclass on writing & staging unconditionally progressive yet absolute realistic mirror to the current social psyche of gender discrepancy.
Moothon, just like Geethu’s debut feature Liar’s Dice starts as a search. It is the search of a sibling (Mulla) for his long lost elder brother who is believed to be in Mumbai. The films gives an unsparing vision of Mumbai underbellies through Mulla. Geethu treats two different timelines, places and pace with the Pacific sea waters, culture and tenderness of Lakshadweep to the chaotic greys of Mumbai. Her writing enters the territory where Rajeev Ravi is a master – Globalisation. Geethu’s writing is overblown with so many things and the Editing almost disturbs this mood, this is not a film to end up within a course of 2 hours. There is so much to fill in the blanks, Geethu doesn’t like to spoon feed as much but there are obvious hit-and-miss segments which should have been edited with care.
Moothon is a benchmark for Indian Cinema in how it treated Love unconditionally without gender biases. The recent web series of Zoya Akther named Made in Heaven had a heartwarming gay relationship. But it was more like a movement. Moothon’s backdrop is a poignant sibling story and at it’s emotional core is a beautiful romance. I loved that it’s treated in the old fashioned way. There is cultural roots, Lakshadweep’s contrasting diction, Kuthu Ratheeb: a cultural ritual of the muslim community. The romance between Ameer (Roshan Mathew) and Akbar (Nivin) has heartwarming tenderness. It’s staged with so much passion, passion for showing Love unconditionally.
Love is cardinal and this is the sensibility filmmakers should behold in showcasing romance on screen. I can see people being uncomfortable in theatres, some walked away. So, why is it being okay when there is glorification of toxicities in relationships and sexist jokes. What is wrong in displaying sexuality? especially homosexual. Slow claps for this stunningly shot segments at Lakshadweep. Dileesh Pothen’s Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum (which was also shot by Rajeev Ravi) had similar political apprehension in the characterization of Kallan Prasad – ‘Self Identify’, people who are homeless without identities in their home countries. Which is also what Geethu tried to plot by showing the journey and eventual fate of Akbar as well as Mulla’s.
The first half of Moothon has few character revelations. It is almost segments between Bhai and Mulla. It is set in Kamathipura. These has terrifying segments where Bhai tries to intimidate Mulla one after another. This gives an apprehensive demography of the place and people. Few other characters has smaller scope to layer their arcs. Sobitha Dhulipala plays Rosy: a sex worker and Shashank Arora is the sidekick of Bhai. But the performances are terrific without an ounce of adulteration. Sujith Shankar plays a transgender whose subplot is reduced as much that we should pain the picture of his backstory with Akbar. But it’s sort of clear when Akbar says She was his first friend at Mumbai.
The only safest place which Akbar could reach his sister is here. This is not just a forced stuff Geethu wants to incorporate like what Karthik Subbaraj did in Petta, and no one is good here. There is one major Revelation at the Interval, which is an absolute masterclass on how Mohandas is painting her characters through gaze of the viewer and gives a sturdy layering to gender politics. Second Half is a riot, where character arcs go wild, new characters gets introduced and we falls to a flashback. The aforementioned love story. Nivin Pauly returns to his forte. But this too, is not the typical Nivin we see in his typical playful roles. He is miraculously glittering with never seen before facial expressions. The one where he looks at the mirror & gives a feminine chuckle is brilliant. Hands down, career best performance of his.
Geethu Mohandas gives a class act in staging scenes. Especially the way he used her cinematographer Rajeev Ravi. These shaky shots though has superlative artistic quality. Even better than Girish Gangadaran’s stylish sculptures in Jallikattu. She likes ambiguous endings, and here the Close up smile of Mulla is the excruciatingly devastating reality. The ultimate faith that binds Mulla to colour lipstick. All the character arcs amalgamates to a poignant epitome of Reality. The soundscape is also brilliant. Background scores are grounded with finesse & sound design is one that resonates.
Moothon is a benchmark for Indian Cinema and a milestone for Malayalam Cinema on what it set out to do. It’s not a mainstream appealing film like Kammattipadam at all. It has warmth of Love as it is ugly. Definitely alongside Jallikattu for the Movie of 2019.