Chennai, 17 Nov 2020 15:34 IST
Far from a devotional film, the Nayanthara-starrer is an out-and-out comedy that skirts controversy.
Films dealing with religious politics, fake godmen and blind faith need to walk a tightrope because we live in a country where people take offence at the drop of a hat. Most people think it’s their birthright to get outraged, especially if their belief system is questioned. RJ Balaji, the writer and director of Mookuthi Amman, turns blind faith in God and godmen on its head and raises pertinent questions in a light-hearted manner without hurting sentiments.
RJ Balaji plays Engles Ramasamy, a local TV reporter and the sole breadwinner of his family. He lives with his mother (Urvashi), grandfather and three sisters, and struggles to make ends meet. As an intrepid journalist, he’s chasing a major story involving a godman Bagavathy Baba (Ajay Ghosh), who has illegally occupied many acres of public land. The guru wants the land to develop 'Panchavanam', which he promotes as the spiritual capital of the world. To help Ramaswamy stop Bagavathy Baba from usurping public land, the goddess Amman (Nayanthara) comes to the rescue.
Mookuthi Amman works because it isn’t a devotional film. It’s an out-and-out entertainer that never resorts to preachiness. It avoids controversy while making a point on religious politics and fake godmen while keeping the narrative as funny as possible. Unlike OMG: Oh My God! (2012) or PK (2014), Mookuthi Amman never gets too serious with its commentary on our blind faith. There’s a lovely scene about a character who studies in a Christian school slowly turning into a Christian. The subsequent scene questions those who forcefully convert people but the tone is not offensive. This approach is what makes it less controversial and RJ Balaji and his team of writers deserve a lot of praise for this.
Nayanthara appears onscreen half an hour into the film. As much as her presence adds a lot of weight to the film, it’s Urvashi who steals the show with her effortless screen presence. As the matriarch, her comic timing is flawless and she gets some of the film’s best moments. Nayanthara, as usual, is her in her effervescent self and is instantly likeable as the deity. RJ Balaji, as an actor, is slightly over the top, but his performance suits his character and never sticks out like a sore thumb. Ghosh is the most animated character Tamil cinema has seen in recent years. You get a slightly heightened performance from him but such is his character.
Mookuthi Amman is being streamed on Disney+ Hotstar
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