Sufiyum Sujatayum(Malayalam, Amazon Prime Video)
Starring Jayasurya,Aditi Rao Hydari,Dev Mohan
Directed by Naranipuzha Shanavas
Rating: ** ½ (two and a half stars)
A potentially explosive subject gets massively diluted by the director’s obsession with visual resplendence.
Imagine if Sanjay Leela Bhansalui was all about just epic visuals, and no soul. It would be wrong to say that Sufiyum Sujatayum has no soul. It strives hard to tap into a volatile and sensitive subject of forbidden love between a Sufi Mullah and a mute Hindu danseuse with eyes that melt each time she looks at her Sufi beloved.
Thank God for Aditi Rao a stunning beauty and a joy forever.She gives her character Sujatha a stunning spin. The camera loves her beautiful face and well…she keeps on her toes throughout. Literally! A lot of the bonding between the Muslim cleric and the Hindu romantic happens over the Sufi dance form where the dancer balances on just one toe while twirling to the sound of a music that echoes the universe.
Sadly the music is at best, functional. The thumri in Hindi is so awful my tears for the fate of the star-crossed lovers dried up.In the latter-half the film becomes a replica of Sanjay Bhansali’s Hum…Dil De Chuke Sanam with the kind compassionate husband(Jayasurya) escorting his wife back to her home town to see her lover one last time.
That look of unfathomable love in Aditi Rao’s eyes stays with you. I was completely taken up with her obsessive love. But the film, so beautifully shot feels empty at heart. There is a shot where the camera follows a gravedigger on his bicycle in the pitch-dark with just one light beam as a bunch of hopeful people watch him go. The shot is composed with such lack of subtlety that its inherent lyricism begins to seem bogus, almost plastic.
Very often one feels the director straining for visual resplendence at the cost of credibility. This is true specially of the climax where a corpse plays a pivotal part.
Love is a grave matter in Sufiyum Sujatayum. The characters die in love. Others choose to live saddened for a lifetime.