Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mozhi Review... or an attempt at it

There are movies that I can go on talking about for days. And then there are movies that I can only say one word about: squeeee! I generally choose to not write about the latter category since you know... it would be embarrassing. But, in the case of Mozhi, an exception must be made because the Internet is outrageously barren when it comes to reviews of this wonderful little gem. And that just doesn't seem fair.

Don't worry, it's not as cheesy as the poster makes it seem!

Mozhi is the story of two musicians and best friends, Karthik (Prithviraj) and Viji (Prakash Raj), who move in together in an apartment building. It's the strangest apartment building, with extremely modern, spacious living rooms,

but the bedrooms are so tiny that the two friends have to sleep together in the same bed, poor souls.

Perhaps also the reason why they are not too keen on having bachelors living there? No matter, the apartment plays host to the rest of their story as Karthik falls in love with deaf-mute neighbour Archana and thus our journey into the lives of the apartment building dwellers begins.

Archana (Jyothika) is a one-of-a-kind character. The movie gives her a unique treatment from the very start, and in fact she does fulfil the role of the strong, silent (no pun intended) and emotionally challenged hero, as opposed to the teary eyed heroine that usually embellishes the man's arm. She gets a hero-like introduction (the first time we see her she is kicking a drunkard's ass), and her intro song is a cross between your typical Mahesh Babu "I'm so badass" (TM) song and the sweet "She makes my heart go dhadak dhadak" heroine intro.

It's no surprise then that she is not only the central character of the film, but also its main hero.

Archana is deaf-mute from birth and she has seen her father abandon her mother because of that, which caused her to be extremely introverted, stubborn, and determined to stand on her own two feet. It also caused her to be apprehensive about men, particularly if they come with marriage proposals. This situation is, evidently, far from ideal for Karthik's budding love story.

Enter Sheela (Swarnamalya), Archana's best friend, who will not only act as a mediator between them, but she will also teach him sign language and a little bit about Archana's heart language. Aaaand she will have her own adorable story, but can't say too much about that because it will spoil the surprise.

On the surface this is a simple love story: boy meets girl, girl is not interested in boy, boy must work hard to woo girl, girl finally falls for him. But in a movie where everything goes against the norm, that's not even the beginning of it. One aspect that really interested me has to do with another role reversal: typically in a love story we see  the girl being fascinated by everything that the hero says and does, while his interest in her "personality" is more of the physical/superficial variety. In Mozhi, Karthik doesn't fall for her looks or her femininity, he falls for her... well, badassness. As the story progresses, the more he discovers about her, the more he admires her for her strength, her pride and her self-respect.

This get mirrored on the heroine's side with a bit of a gender reversal as well. I particularly enjoyed the way Archana starts to take interest in music and rhythms as she gets to know Karthik, a very subtle but certain sign that she is becoming interested in him.

But underneath this, by starting to get in touch with a form of art that she never understood before, she is learning to understand him emotionally, something that, again, is behaviour usually reserved for the hero. It's not that the typical love story doesn't have a hero with emotions, but it's usually him that has to learn to understand her delicate feelings, him trying to learn the language of her soul, a language that he initially doesn't understand, not the other way around. We're used to the girls being the delicate flowers and the boys being the elephants in a china store. Mozhi does things just a little bit differently.

There are many little details like this that I really enjoyed in this movie, all having to do with modified mirror images. At one point Archana gifts Karthik a violin made of soap. It's a musical instrument, but it doesn't make any sounds. Later on, Karthik gifts her a pocket watch that plays a tune when opened. It's not a musical instrument, but it plays music. Through these gifts, she can now share his music, and he can share her silence.

I always said I appreciate love stories that change a character, that make them see the world in a different way, and this is one of the reasons why I am so in love with these characters: they don't come into each other's world just to live in it, they come to enrich it. By making an effort to learn each other's languages, both characters discover a side of their personality they never even knew they had. This is probably why the scene that touched me the most was Karthik's encounter towards the end with a little deaf-mute girl who is trying to sell him flowers. As empathic and kind as Karthik is from the very beginning, that entire conversation would have never taken place without Archana's presence in his life.

Now I realize that I have been talking incessantly about the main love story, but funnily enough, that's not even my favourite part of the film. My favourite part is the relationship between the two friends, Karthik and Viji. In fact Mozhi for me is as much a romance as it is a bromance, and the chemistry that Prithviraj and Prakash Raj share here is truly special. It's like watching two friends on candid camera, there is nothing forced in the way they laugh together, the way they poke fun at each other, the way they talk and learn from each other, and most of all the way they're always there for each other. I don't think I have ever seen either of the two actors in such jolly roles, and at such level of comfort, it really is like peeking through a hole into the real life of two roommates. They play off each so other brilliantly for comedy, that it's impossible not to grin happily during their scenes together.

Ah! Gold! Each and every one of their scenes! Such goofs!

Which actually brings me to a little something I wanted to say about Prakash Raj. Now I know he's been in some hundred of films, but why is it that there are only a handful where he plays a character different from Prakash-Bad and Prakash-Dad? If there was any doubt, Mozhi proves that he can do it and well, so I confess to being a little disappointed with him for not doing more with this talent. Not that I don't appreciate Prakash-Dad and Prakash-Bad, God knows I will watch a bad movie if he is the villain any day, but films like Mozhi and Iruvar make me sad to see him typecast so much.

Speaking of wasted potential, I am not Jyothika's biggest fan, but she truly made this role one of her best performances. Such a shame that she gave up acting after this film. She seems to have trouble emoting sometimes (and a few times in this film), but the fact that she made the sign language work so fluently for her character and pulling off a role where she has no lines, is indeed commendable. I quite enjoyed her in this film, as I enjoyed her sidekick, Swarnamalya.

It would not be a complete review if I didn't mention all the secondary characters, neighbours from the apartment complex, but then, this was never meant to be a proper review, nor do I want to spoil some of the surprises by bringing them up here. Suffice to say, it's a pleasure to see some well-developed secondary characters who are not there to move the plot forward necessarily, but rather to populate and enrich a world that becomes more real with each of them.

Now that Mozhi is available on DVD with subtitles, there is no excuse for not watching it. Besides, how often do you hear me rave so much about a love story, huh?


dustdevil liz said...

Yay! I'm so glad you loved this movie as much as I do. Radha Mohan is definitely on my list of favorite directors, but sadly, not on my list of favorite female directors ;-) ('ve seen all of his films, and the fully realized supporting cast is one of his great strengths. Ponniyin Selven also has a nicely developed friendship between Prakash Raj's character and the lead.
I also love that the leads are fully part of the comedy, especially the dog chase scene.

Dolce and Namak said...

LOL OOps, why did I think it was a woman? Will edit.

And yes, Ponniyin Selven was actually next on my list. :) Well, and whenever Payanam actually comes out with subs. *eyeroll*

Thanks for the correction, Liz! And for the recoo since I am fairly sure I got it off your blog! ;)

Mukundh B said...

methinks you will be disappointed with Payanam as imo it becomes what it doesn't says it won't become - a commercial film. It tries to be different but ends up following the trends. But I loved the movie for it had a separate and a hillarious parody track on our beloved Dr Vijay..

Dolce and Namak said...

Hey Mukundh, I think you lost me on that one: who the heck is Dr Vijay??

And I have a higher tolerance than you for commercial films, remember? ;) But good to be forewarned nonetheless!

No really, who IS Dr Vijay?...

Anonymous said...

Dolce, I watched this movie because of your review, and I loved it! :-)Jyothika really satisfies my need to see an Indian heroine who is not just brittl, fluffy, eyecandy. She isn't an excellent actress, but she has a sense of dignity and strength around her that rmeinds me of Vidya Balan.I also loved the affectionate depiction of freindships (male AND female!) and Jyothika's kick-ass introduction :-P

Thank you for the reccomnedation :-D


Dolce and Namak said...

Squeeee! So happy you liked it too, Sanyogita!!! Isn't it so perfect! It's fluffy but still intelligent and yes, beautiful relationships. Plus the story makes sense. It seems so simple and yet too many movies get it all wrong. You just made my day by liking this little gem. Thank you!! :)

Anonymous said...

Good review of a good movie. I saw it a few years back, I remember a few scenes where I felt very critical (mainly about over-acting and over-emotionalism) but on the whole I remember enjoying the film and developing quite a warm feeling towards most of the characters.

Sherita said...

Please, please, please! Where did you get Mozhi with subtitles???? It is my very favorite movie, and I don't even speak Tamil! Originally, it wasn't available with subtitles, but now you say you've found it!! Where? Help!

Dolce and Namak said...

Hey Suja, yes, there are a few of those scenes, but overall it's surprinsgly well acted for a movie depicting a disability. Usually they get it so wrong. I am so glad you also found it endearing overall! This movie deserves so much love!! :)

Hey Sherita! I so hear you on that, I freaked out when I saw the subtitled DVD, I had been looking for it for eons. I found it at It says in the title too that it has subs, so I think there were many like us! LOL

Swati Sapna said...

Have heard so much about Mozhi and have still not managed to watch it :( Now after ur glowing review, its on my must-watch priority list!!

Bindu said...

OMG!! I am so glad you watched this movie!!
I was gonna ask you to watch it sometime soon.
This movie will always be one of those movies, that you can watch repeatedly!! Loved every bit of the movie. Especially the emotional scene between karthik and the professor.

Dolce and Namak said...

@ Swati: yes, and it should go higher up your list, I think you will really enjoy it! :) Do come back and tell me about it when you get around to seeing it!

@ Bindu: Hehe, one step ahead of you! :) But I so agree, I could rewatch it any day. There's hardly anything out of place in it, despite the many subplots that it handles. Maybe the only one I could have done without was the one with Brahmi and the girl and all the confusion that ensues. I enjoyed their characters (especially the eyelas batting :D), but they took it a little too far out in the left field for me. But other than that, LOVE this whole movie!! :)

mm said...

Not really a comment, but a question: Where do you buy your dvd's from in Canada, especially the south Indian ones? Thanks.

Dolce and Namak said...

Hey mm, I buy online at They have mixed reviews in general, but I have only had good experiences with them. At least since I switched to PayPal (after being a victim of CC fraud, possibly from this website). They do have an excellent selection.

Mukundh B said...

U don't know Dr Vijay?? Illayathalapathy Vijay??? He was given a doctorate by some local university. And months later the university status of that college was scrapped by govt! So we call him "Dr" Vijay :P

Dolce and Namak said...

LOL No, I had never heard this story, but that's hilarious! Thanks for telling me actually, now I'll keep an eye out for it in Payanam and it will probably amuse me, unlike many other comedy subplots that usually fly above my head. :)

Mukundh B said...

You should check out these photos of Vijay
And also try googling Flop actor :D

Dolce and Namak said...

Oy! So much of hate... :) I think I'm good with just the story.

Mukundh B said...

It ain't Hate towards Vijay, see it the way I see it, It is love for Dr Vijay :D B-)

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