11th June 2020

Moothon Movie Review: It Is Much More Than A Gay Love Story!

Mothoon

Starring  Nivin Pauly, Roshan Matthews,Sanjana  Dipu

Written and Directed by  Geetu Mohandas

Rating: *****(5 stars)

Movie Review: In her sophomore film the  Malayalam masterpiece Moothon  which should be on everyone’s must-see list of lockdown  films, director Geetu Mohandas(whose debut film Liars Dice is an undiscovered  gem) has actually yoked two  films together into a work of  stunning  impact.

On the surface  Moothon is a  travel tale  od  15-year child’s  search for his missing elder  brother .  Amir  has gone  missing in the bustle   of Mumbai. The  male  child , played by a female  actor  Sanjana Dipu, travels  to Mumbai alone and gets sucked into the city’s brutal  underbelly with  barely space for  anyone to breathe.

Geetu Mohandas  recreates an asphyxiating Mumbai, filled with seedy bars and bustling brothels, with Shobha Dhulipala   bringing in a little too much lipsmacking joy into  her  whore’s part. I know she’s a happy whore. But lady, calm down! This is a  film about holding in , holding back.

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With  her husband cinematographer  Rajeev Ravi to capture every hearbeat of her  creative  outpouring Geetu Mohandas  breathes  resplendent life into every frame.Her Mumbai is a breathless morass  of  self-destruction.And Nivin Pauly is the  emperor  of  Mohndas’s  simmering inferno.

Let me  say this right here. Nivin Pauly is  a revelation. With this one  performance—actually it’s two  performances so seamlessly fused  together that  they become  completely  unified—Pauly  joins the elitist  circle  of the  most accomplished  actors of our country.

 His Akbar is  force  of Nature. Thundering against  the humanity that he has buried under the rubble of roughness,  his  performance epitomizes that musk of  machismo that men are supposed to flaunt to be  considered  “man enough”.

 Miraculously, and  with a fascinating  fluency, Geetu Mohandas  flips the coin,and takes us into a ravishing  romance captured  by the splashing seawaves  of Laskshadweep  in a flashback between  Akbar and his  mute soul-mate Amir(Roshan Matthew).This is a love story so  freed  of gender restrictions that I  wanted to stand up and applaud not just the supreme  sensitivity   of  the  director  but also the  indomitable bravery  of  the two actors.

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In scenes  that are reminiscent  of  Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, the two actors  portray love with spellbinding  immersive intensity. When  Nivin Paul  amd Roshan Matthew  look at  each other they see neither man nor woman.They see only love.

We copy that. Paul and Matthew don’t “play”  lovers. They embody  love at its sublimest. With shattering abruptness  the romance ends suddenly.The plot somersaults into the sordid  violence  it  had left behind and  lands on its feet.The violent life that Akbar has  chosen for himself   is  challenged  by the  presence of a  child who needs  to be protected  from sexual aggression.

I felt this  part  of an other-wise flawless  film to be over-burdened with the  task of  coping with  LGBT issues.  There  is also  a transgender character(played with cogent urgency by Sujith Shankar) who  doesn’t quite fit into this epic  jigsaw  that tackles  the  age-old question of sexual  identity  without getting sweaty under the collar.

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 Moothon  is a remarkably restrained and  ruminative  treatise  on  love ,intimacy, longing and grieving.  It is one of the decade’s bravest  most  accomplished Indian films with  heartbreaking  moments  of meditative  melancholy.

 In one sequence  the  mute  Amir tries to  enunciate Akbar’s name in his ear.

Yup,call me by your name, indeed.

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