Driving up and down the National Highway last week (some 800 kilometers), I would have used the “M” word a few hundred times (thanks to the road rash). I often wonder why the “M” word is not part of the malayalam cinema lexicon (which claims to be that close to real life). Mulla ends the dry spell with Biju Menon shouting “Vandi edukeda M” (and first guy next to me instinctively replying “entho” and a second guy asking “is it ok to use this word in movies?”). Last time I remember hearing the “M” word was in Balu Mahendra’s classic “Yatra”. What a wait! 2 decades huh 🙂
“Mulla” is a movie which Lal Jose necessarily didn’t have to make, while the movie is not that bad and there is a lot of slap stick laugh, missing it wouldn’t be such a big miss. The craft of the movie is good – Dileep’s acting, Vipin Mohan’s excellent cinematography that blends in with the dusty realms of an impoverished “colony” by a railway line somewhere on the eastern side of ghats, Vidyasagar– Sarath Vayalar’s songs which are tuneful and in place , some really cool jokes ,and the art direction which is above average.
The problem with the movie is – there is nothing new. Lal Jose, arguably commercial malayalam’s best director alive does a movie for the sake of it. A few weeks back, actor Jayasurya claimed that caucuses exist in malayalam industry and one needs to be part of a caucus to survive. Even while doubting whether some one like Jayasurya has the powder keg to fire even if he’s part of the best caucus, movies like “Mulla” point to the existence of one. “Mulla” has the “Rasikan” team resurrected, every bit of it.
I admire Lal Jose for his ability to create lasting images out of rural ennui. Be it the classic village with a village robber and a village money lender in “Meesha Madhavan” or the feel evinced by movies like “Maravathoor Kanavu”. In Mulla, Lal Jose does the same but he repeats himself because “Mulla” rings of “Rasikan”. Be it the toughie-softie Dileep, the dusty colony, the low lifes (including goondas, pimps, traffickers) or the same old cast. There is nothing new in this hugely predictable movie.
Story: Dileep in and as Mulla, is second in line in a lower end crime mafia, which takes really cheap quotations like Rs 30000 for killing a person (must be outsourced crime mafia). The story revolves around the colony where the mafia is located, trains that pass next to the colony and a host of characters including pimps, hos, goondas, beggars, tea seller, money lender, more goondas etc. Now a deserted child comes into Mulla’s life, so does a girl played by Meera Nandan. Now we have seen this, yeah softening toughie and stuff. And the villain appears with a predictable twist in the form of a police officer played nicely by Shaiju Kurup. Mulla is basically a love story, atleast that one is not lost in the otherwise pointless and redundant story line.
1. Dileep: Playing Mulla “who was born before language was invented” (that was a good one!) gives a memorable performance. He carries a central character who has very few dialogues. Time and again, Dileep is called a “mimicry” actor and under rated. This is another performance which should give him the place he deserves in malayalam’s pecking order. It is a humorous, tough and at times unpredictable portrayal which show cases the talent of this so called “range – less” actor.
I’m not a Dileep fan, but there was a “slap stick” place occupied by Mohanlal when he did roles like TP Balagopalan, Chitram, Aey Auto and Kilukkam – and Dileep fits in right there. (not Kireedom, Bharatham, Dasharatham).
No1, No2 and Prithvi are like Banyan trees because they don’t let other characters develop properly, thanks to their screen presence. Dileep’s performances give a lot of space where other characters get their own breath and smell. Dileep is definitely No 3. Prithvi cannot carry a movie as of today, and even Thulasidas knows that (though he doesn’t know how to make a movie; courtsey – College Kumaran)
2. Some good humour, few pathetic jokes: which makes the movie watchable. Salim Kumar rocks! (as if you didn’t know)
1. Nothing new. I repeat.
2. Meera Nandan: For a new comer, she does pretty bad. She portrays the imbalance in “Letchi” pretty well, but I’m not sure if thats the way the character was supposed to be. Crying scenes reminds you of “monoact” stages in youth festivals. This role was to be played by Meera Jasmine. Thank Lal Jose that didn’t happen.
3. Technically flawed: I don’t get how a beggar woman who sings tamil songs with a tamil accent speaks malayalam like an NRK. (Ok NRK is like, have you heard Kamala Das?..or maybe Kukku Parameshwaran? get the feel?). Flaws abound after that. Accents give credibility to art and this is not the first time that importing chicks from up north let our movies down. Nevertheless Shruthi Menon is promising.
Verdict: Opening is pretty good for this low budget flick sharing revenues with “Cycle” which is still running to packed houses. There will be a dearth of movies for the summer vacation audience atleast till the two big ones “Innathe Chinta Vishayam” (Anthikad’s Mohanlal starrer) and “Annan Thampi” (Anwar Rasheed’s Mammooty starrer) release across the state. So “Mulla” might end up as an average Hit! Again if Mohanlal continues to do what he’s lately good at (making Flops) then “Mulla” could go steadily into the monsoon season as a Hit movie.
P.S: Liked “Cycle”, “Vantage Point” and “RACE”. Didn’t like Jodha Akbar.
P.P.S: Jodha Akbar was so long, the audience split into two and started playing antakshari in the theatre.
P.P.P.S: Jodha Akbar was that long, Idea Star Singer finally showed signs of getting over!