Written and directed by Geethu Mohandas, Moothon is her directorial debut in Malayalam. And in that it makes it a special film. But also, with the no-nonsense theme for this film, Geethu Mohandas is telling us that come film-making, she means business.
Moothon is a film about a search. At the face of it, Mulla, a 14 year-old orphaned from Lakshadweep decides to set out in search of a older brother who ran away to Mumbai. But Mumbai's underbelly and the red streets of Kamathipura are ubrutally unforgiving to the kid. And the search goes on revealing sharp and naked truth one at a time.
Mulla, a 14 year old orphan, sets out from Lakshadweep in search of an elder brother ie. Moothon. The child navigates through the underbelly of Mumbai, where the elder brother, Akbar, was last known to have been, in search of him.
The director is indeed the captain of this ship here. The spine of Moothon is a powerful story that is a meditation on gender identity and love. And with such layered themes at play, set in the red-streets of Kamathipura, Geethu Mohandas manages to keep her film sans unnecessary gore. Rajeev Ravi's visuals are nothing short of mesmerizing. The contrast he sets between the dank and dreary Kamathipura and the greyishly pristine Lakshadweep is emblematic of the protagonist's life. Even the sequences with the flying fish, et al evoke symbolism.
One must assume that the choice to cast Nivin Pauly to play a ruggedly brute, and yet emotionally decrepit gang-lord could not come naturally. However, Nivin Pauly puts naysayers at rest with a performance that can only be seen as his revival as an actor from the star he is. The actor has come out of the shadows of the next-door boyish charms, into a character that demands much more than what we are used to expect from Nivin. And it becomes clear why Nivin Pauly fits the bill to play Akbar in the second-half as he navigates his love, guilt and retribution. The real beauty of Moothon is its depiction of homosexual romance. Without playing to the gender stereotypes, Moothon depicts a homosexual relationship on-screen with a pure tenderness and honesty cinema has failed to show so far yet. Roshan Mathew plays the deaf and mute Amir. Roshan's command and prowess over his craft is clear as he communicates with his eyes, with no dialogue devices to his aide. The one scene where he manages to mouth the name of his beloved is also emotionally riding on his shoulders. And the combination of Nivin with Roshan is magic on screen for the beautiful chemistry they share.
Sagar Desai has set the music for Moothon with heavily pregnant silences. The music is barely there, in the way that it never makes emotional suggestions. Instead it lets you emote and whenever necessary gives you a soft nudge, not once standing out from the narrative.
Moothon is what happens when a powerful story meets a competent director who ropes in some of the best artists and technicians, knowing exactly what to get from them, and how. Moothon is a brave film. And it is this gritty courage that brings about nothing less than the best in an artist. If you were a Nivin Pauly fan, watch Moothon for Nivin Pauly 2.0. But if it is the very craft of film-making that you enjoy, then watch it for the powerful story of self discovery.