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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mozhi (2007) – the language of romcom.

You know you’ve been watching too many old Hindi movies when:

1. Hrithik’s less than perfect Urdu diction bothers you.
2. Hindi accents in all movies leave so much to be desired.
3. the heroines look like they could do with a decent meal.
4. the heroes look like they’re trying to compete with Schwarznegger.
5. the songs sound like terrible background noise.

So, what do you do? You head down South, to the land where the leading ladies are not on starvation diet, where nobody speaks Hindi, and where modern masala is still “cracktastic”! And who do we meet there? Two regular guys on their way to romance and comedy!!! 

Karthik (Prithviraj) and Viji (Prakashraj) are two bachelor keyboard players for a music director in Tamil films. Their lack of at least one spouse per head lands them in trouble with their apartment secretary Ananthakrishnan (Brahmanandam). He asks them to leave their “family-oriented” building. Being decent, family-fearing folk, the two decide to look for another apartment.

Just when they are about to start house-hunting, Karthik discovers that the light-bulb of his life and the music in his ears, in other words, his dream girl, also lives in the same building. Viji and Karthik instantly resolve to become permanent residents of the no-bachelors-at-all building and become a constant irritant in the eyes of Ananthakrishnan.

But I am running ahead of myself and havent explained how Karthik fell in love. He always knew that when he’d meet the woman of his dreams, a newly-lit bulb above him would light his path toward his soul-mate. Viji was unconvinced that the almighty would choose to squander precious electricity to light up Karthik’s romance in these days of electrical power shortages. But he was proved wrong when Karthik’s light lit up on seeing an unknown beauty (Jyotika) dishoom a roadside bully. He was smitten on spot by her martial skills. Before he could declare himself though, the lady disappeared in an unfortunately placed autorickshaw, leaving Karthik in lonely contemplation of his lit-up bulb.

As it turns out, it all ends well. Karthik discovers the beauty is none other than his neighbour Archana. The rest of the film is taken up with Karthik’s wooing which doesnt go as well as you’d expect from a filmi hero. The first hurdle is Archana’s disability – she’s a deaf-mute. Karthik is undaunted by the fact that she can neither hear nor talk and proceeds to learn sign-language to communicate with her.

But that isnt the end of poor Karthik’s trials. Archana is a very angry young woman indeed and refuses to let anyone close to her. She lost her parents at a young age (her father abandoned the family upon learning of her defect and her mother died soon after) and allows no one but her old grandmother and dear friend Sheela (Swarnamalya) to enter her charmed circle. So Karthik has his work cut out for a difficult wooing. Of course, he does it beautifully and is successful in the end.  But how? You need to see the movie to find that out…

Interwoven with Karthik-Archana’s tale are the stories of carefree Viji, lovely but lonely Sheela, always irritated Ananthakrishnan, mentally unbalanced Professor Jnanprakasham, and the silly Priti (Neelima) - all very nicely sketched and executed. There are lots of light moments – provided mostly by Prakashraj – and even with inadequate subtitles, I was giggling through large parts of the movie.

The best part is of course the  romance. Its beautifully done – I loved the imaginative ways Karthik came up with to understand and overcome Archana’s handicap and her distrust of men. Karthik as played by Prithviraj is the ultimate dream-man – he is sensitive, caring, understanding and persistent without being stalker-ish. Jyothika is cute but her acting was a bit over the top and her Archana was a bit too angry for my taste. But she certainly kicked ass and the only dishoom-dishoom in the movie was done by her.

Of the other actors, I liked Swarnmalya and Prakashraj a lot. Swarnmalya was lovely and I’d love to see more of her. Prakashraj looked too old to be playing the careless young bachelor, but was fun, nonetheless. He even had this for people who missed Ranbir Kapoor’s towel act:

And if you havent gathered that already, let me spell it out – this fun romcom gets the OiG stamp of approval. Go watch it!


  1. Your list of "you kno you've been watching too many old Hindi movies when" is hilarious.

    Thanks for the movie review. It looks so fun. Plus love the girl power kick!

  2. I both fear and look forward to seeing more south movies...fear because I DO NOT NEED another obsession and look forward to for fillums like this :)


  3. I've been loving my Kannada films - it is nice to know there are still places making movies with physically less-than-perfect heroes and heroines and amazing masala plots!

  4. Nicki, its a very heartfelt list. I've been feeling this way a lot, lately! ;-) And yes, girl power kick is the best thing ever. I loved the fact that he wasnt macho in a dishoom-dishoom way (she was!) and unlike a lot of Southern heroes, could take no for an answer and back off.

    memsaab, one obsession more or less can hardly matter. Life is too small for just one obsession, anyway! ;-)

    Filmi Girl, so true. I like sculpted bodies as much as the next person but I also miss seeing "real" good looks. And the masala was surprisingly modern and feminist. Yay!

  5. Okay, I've definitely got to get this. It looks soooo good! And I'm with everyone else: your list is hilarious (and true).

  6. This is fantastic timing -- a few days ago I watched my first Prithviraj movie and I was thinking that I should find some more of his films to watch. This one looks great.

    Where did you get the DVD? I can't find it on Netflix or from any of my usual suppliers. :)

  7. ajnabi, I am sure the other way round - watching an older film after too many new ones - will be an equally disorienting experience.

    Cindy, I got this courtesy a Tamilian friend who was visiting India. Have you tried any online stores? Off-Bollywood Indian movies are usually difficult to come by.

  8. Ah, this sounds like something I've gotta see. Now if only I could increase the number of hours in a day so I could fit in all my reading, my writing, my movie-watching, and the miscellaneous tasks one needs to do to continue to live... sigh. Someday, someday.

  9. I know... not enough time for everything. Now if only some scientist would come up with a medication that would let us dispense with sleep, we'd get so many free hours in the day!

  10. I can imagine what a relief it must be to get away from bad Hindi dictions. How one misses those days when actors knew how to speak a language properly. And didn't just concentrate on their new haircut and the next set of packs. :-(

    I've only ever seen Tamil movies on buses, and they've just been jaw-wide-open watching even without subtitles!

  11. Banno, I was fine with the "new" Hindi (isnt that how we all speak?) until I got back into watching tons of oldies and now I keep noticing jarring accents and dictions - its so distracting! :-( To be fair, SRK and Aamir's Hindi/Urdu is great inspite of their absorption with packs of all kinds.

    "jaw-wide-open watching" is right when it comes to Rajnikanth flicks, but there are some pretty good ones too, and this was one of them.

  12. I'm also loving the list! :)

    I'm with Memsaab on the films from the south--I just know there's a whole pool of goodies, just waiting to be explored, yet how would I support another filmi obssession?

    This film looks really cute-thank you for sharing!

  13. Urdu, thanks for stopping by. Unfortunately for me, Urdu isnt one of the languages I can read.

    Nida, why not call it a filmi obsession and include all films in it? That way, its all one obsession! ;-)

  14. I finally got this and watched it tonight. I loved it. It was so cute and sweet. Thanks for the recommendation!

  15. I would love to watch more South Indian films, having only seen half a dozen or so (mostly Tamizh except for a couple of telugu), but i really can't stomach violence and Southie movies seem to view large dollops of (for me) graphic violence as simply indispensable elements of even the lightest masala flicks. If you can recommend any that are violence-lite, I would happily hunt them down.

  16. Cindy, I am so glad you liked it! I wish I could find more such films. Since you watch a lot of South Indian films, do you have any recommendations?

    maxqnz, you have seen more Tamil films than I have! Apart from this one I've only seen Mouna Raagam and Kandukondain Kandukondain - and I'd recommend them both, if you havent watched them already. I think the excessive violence is typical of new films. You should try oldies for violence-lite rom-coms!

  17. Thanks for the recommendations, bollyviewer. I have KK and it is a frequent watch, although I normally FF through the boring Aish bits to drool over Tabu. As for "You should try oldies for violence-lite rom-coms!" I know this to be true of Hindi films, which is why more than half of the 250 or so I've watched almost and all of the 80 or so I own are pre-1980, most pre-1970 actually. I don't know anything at all about oldies from the South.

  18. "Boring Aish" bits! I actually liked her a lot better than usual. But ya, Tabu was great as always. I dont know a lot about oldies from the South, but I've seen some Telugu films that I remember did not make me cry as a kid (I was terrified of dishoom dishoom and Mother India-like tear jerkers). Plus some of my favorite oldies are re-makes of South Indian films (Meena kumari starrer Miss Mary and Azaad, for e.g.). So its safe to assume that at least some of their oldies are great!

  19. Dumm Dumm Dumm is a really cute romantic comedy starring Madhavan and Jyothika. I also really like Alaipayuthey, which is the Tamil version of Saathiya. (Incidentally, Swarnamalya from Mozhi is a supporting actress in Alaipayuthey.) Those are two of my favorite non-violent Tamil films.

    My absolute favorite Telugu film is Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana. I also enjoyed Geetanjali, which is apparently the only film Mani Ratnam directed in Telugu. It's not violent either, although it's very 80s. Most of the other Telugu films I've seen are more violent.

  20. Cindy, thanks for the recommendations. I keep forgetting about Alaipayuthey, which several people have said is much better than Saaithya (which I enjoyed). I own and adore Nuvvostanante - the scene where he feeds his father the 'peasant food' he eats is LOL stuff every time.

  21. Cindy, thanks for the recs. I am adding those movies to my to-look-out-for list. Hopefully my South Indian friends will be able to help me locate them.

  22. Some really good telugu movies to watch include - Bomairllu (best reviews at Bollywoodfan and Bitten by Bollywood0, Anand, Godavari and Happy Days - all directed by Shekhar Kammulla - good story, music, acting, non-violent. You can see good screen caps of these movies from Nicky's blog - Hmong Chick

  23. Anonymous, thanks for the recommendations. I already have Bommarillu, but will be sure to look out for the others.

  24. I know I am coming to this post way, way too late, but I am slowly working my way down your posts in chronological order of movies :)

    If you liked Mozhi, then you should watch - Abhiyum Naanum, which is again a sweet movie (slightly over the top in certain places), Kannathil Muthamittal, Thenali, Nala Damayanthi, Mudhal Mariyadai (if you see only one Tamil movie, watch this!), Michael Madana Kaamarajan (if you need an antidote to Monday-morning blues, I greatly recommend this!) - these are all Tamil movies.

    I do not know if you ever watched Malayalam ones, but there are some wonderful movies to be found there. In fact, most of Priyadarshan's crass comedies in Hindi had their genesis in Malayalam,made by better directors and more subtle and restrained than what Priyan makes out of them.

    Sanmanassullavarku Samadhanam (the original of Yeh Tera Ghar, Yeh Mera Ghar), Manichitrathazhu (which should *never* have been remade in *any* other language - the original is so good!), Nandanam, Thirakatha, Kochu Kochu Santhoshangal, August 1, Oru CBI Diary Kurippu, Vallyettan, Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha, Bharatham, Thanmatra, Passenger, Deshadanakili Karayarilla, Daivanamathil, Kerala Cafe, Katha Parayumbol, Thaniyavarthanam, Yathra, Classmates, His Highness Abdullah,Gandhinagar IInd Street, Pakshe, Kanmadam ....

    Oh, the list is endless :)

  25. Thanks for all the recommendations! I have tried Kannathil Muthamittal and decided that apart from Mouna Raagam, I do not particularly care for Mani Ratnam films. Will look out for the others, though.

    Malayalam films I have been meaning to look into. I've only seen Manichitrathazhu so far and loved Shobana in it. I must admit to liking some of Priyadarshan's "crass comedies" in Hindi - Hungama is a big favorite of mine. Isn't it a mish-mash of 2-3 originals? You sound like you've seen a ton of Malayalam films. How about reviewing them, so the rest of us know which ones to pick?

  26. Maybe I will, at that. :) Maybe this is what will provide the motivation to get off my backside and actually write about the movies I have seen! I did one review a couple of years ago - I do not know if you have seen it. It is called Agnisakshi (Malayalam). Here is the link if you are interested.

    It is available on youtube, but the problem is that there are no sub-titles. I am not sure if a DVD is available.

    I will look into my collection and have some reviews ready for you. :) Hopefully soon.