Cast: RJ Balaji, Nayanthara, Urvashi, Ajay Ghosh and Mouli
Director: RJ Balaji and NJ Saravanan
When you’re making a film about religious politics, fake god men and blind faith, you need to walk a tightrope in the way you address the subject because we live in a country where people take offence very easily. Most people think it’s their birthright to get offended, especially if their belief system (involving god) is questioned. What RJ Balaji, as writer and director of Mookuthi Amman, does is that he turns blind faith in god and god men on its head and raises pertinent (rarely controversial) questions in the most light-hearted (without insulting sentiments) manner.
RJ Balaji plays Engles Ramasamy, a local TV reporter and the sole breadwinner of his family. He lives with his mom (Urvashi), grandfather and three sisters, and struggles to make ends meet. As an intrepid reporter, he’s after a big story involving a godman Bagavathy Baba (Ajay Ghosh), who has illegally occupied many acres of public land and wants to build Panchavanam, which he promotes as the spiritual capital of the world. To help Ramaswamy stop Bagavathy Baba from usurping the land of the public, goddess Amman (Nayanthara) comes to the rescue. How Ramaswamy’s family, with the help of Mookuthi Amman, try to stop Bagavathy Baba forms the story.
One of the reasons why Mookuthi Amman works wholesomely is because it isn’t a devotional film. It’s an out-and-out entertainer that never gets preachy to make its point. It takes the less controversial route to make its point on religious politics and fake god men while keeping the narrative as funny as possible. Unlike OMG: Oh My God or PK, Mookuthi Amman never gets too serious about its commentary on our blind faith in god and god men. There’s a lovely scene about one of the characters who studies in a Christian school and is 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 praise for this effort.
Nayanthara enters the frame half an hour into the film. As much as her presence adds a lot of weightage to the film, it’s Urvashi who steals the show with her effortless screen presence. As the mother of the family, her comic timing is flawless and she gets some of the film’s best moments. Nayanthara, as usual, is her effervescent self and is instantly likable as a goddess. RJ Balaji, as the actor, brings in a slightly over-the-top performance but it suits his character and never sticks out like a sore thumb. Ajay Ghosh as Bagavathy Baba is the most animated character you could see in Tamil cinema in recent years. A cross between Jaggi Vasudev and NithyaNandha, you get a slightly exaggerated performance from him but it really goes well with his character.
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