“Kaatrin Mozhi”… This remake could have used better craft and performances, but the core still works

Posted on November 16, 2018

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Spoilers ahead…

Read the full review on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/kaatrin-mozhi-movie-review-jyothika-vidharth-lakshmi-manchu/

In Radhamohan’s Kaatrin Mozhi (The Language of the Wind), Jyothika plays Vijayalakshmi (Viji), an endlessly enthusiastic housewife whose mantra is “Ennaala mudiyum.” (I can do it.) In the first scene, this can-do spirit is put to test in a lemon-and-spoon race. Her husband, Balakrishnan/Balu (Vidharth), eggs her on with Ajith’s lines from Vivegam: “Never. Ever. Give up.” It’s a comic scene, but with a dash of irony. This is a harmless sport, using harmless kitchen products (a lemon, a spoon). Would Balu be as encouraging if his wife set out to do something less… housewifely? The film — adapted from Suresh Triveni’s Tumhari Sulu — presents both ends of the working-woman spectrum: the woman who sells ready-made food to the residents of an apartment complex (a safe, “womanly” profession) versus the woman who drives a cab round the clock. Viji veers towards the latter category when she becomes the RJ of a late-night radio show. Where are the Ajith dialogues now?

In 1963, Satyajit Ray began the on-screen debate on gender roles with the exquisite Mahanagar. There, it was a compulsion. The hesitant wife took up a job because of the financial pressure the family was under, and, to everyone’s surprise, she began to bloom. (The husband, correspondingly, wilted.) Tumhari Sulu is a lighter take on this premise, but more than five decades on, how amazing that the middle-class male — here, too, his job situation is iffy — is still threatened by a woman’s independence. The modern-day twist is that Sulu/Viji works not because of the money but because the job makes her happy. She’s stepping out of the house to do something other than just, say, pay the electricity bill. A power imbalance is imminent.

Tumhari Sulu was delicately textured, beautifully directed. The music score enhanced the scenes discreetly, hinting at emotions slightly tangential to the ones on screen. The supporting cast was aces. Manav Kaul’s slow-simmering chemistry with Vidya Balan came across as equal parts love and exasperation. And the glorious heroine, of course, made every scene sing. Kaatrin Mozhi, on the other hand, is a loud TV serial. (It even looks like one.) People seem to be delivering lines by rote rather than interacting with their co-stars. Vidharth looks uneasy opposite Jyothika, who oversells every emotion. (She does hit a few nice notes in the latter portions, though.) Lakshmi Manchu and Kumaravel (as Viji’s boss and colleague) are reduced to props, and Yogi Babu is used, once again, in jokes that play on his looks. MS Baskar shows everyone up in the one big scene he gets. It takes great skill to make shameless melodrama convincing, affecting and, above all, honest. As written, it’s a shrewdly manipulative scene, but he plays it like it’s a chapter from his own life.

Continued at the link above.

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Posted in: Cinema: Tamil