Love is pure. Love is sacred. But love is also chaos. It changes you, perhaps even in the most undesirable of ways. There is a beauty in the chaos and there is chaos in the beauty. Moothon is a beautiful amalgamation of these two components; beauty and chaos. While one of the most striking aspects about Moothon is its representation of the LGBTQIA community, the film talks about so much more. From unrequited love to the fragile masculinity in society, this film gives us an impactful yet effective peek into lives of many marginalized communities.
Taking place between the Lakshadweep Islands and Mumbai, Moothon follows the story of a young teenager named Mulla who runs away in search of a long-lost brother ("Moothon"). Navigating the crevices of Kamathipura in Mumbai, Mulla comes across a host of characters in this search; each one with distinctive and ominous agendas. While the central premise of the film revolves around the relationship between the said Moothon/Akbar and Ameer (essayed brilliantly by Roshan Mathew), the film delves into various aspects such as unrequited love, the acceptance of self and the societal norms of genders.
In addition to being a commentary on how even the most tender-hearted men are roughened up by the harsh realities of life, the film showcases how crude and crass the life is for people and minorities that remain on the fringes of societies. Much like how the LGBTQIA communities in various parts of the world are exiled and ousted from society, Kamathipura is a destination to which all such societally rejected communities are relegated. Undoubtedly, the most striking sequence in the film is the beautifully constructed romance between Akbar and Ameer. There is an innate tenderness and innocence in their relationship. Their chemistry is sacred and laced with sanctity. While the film has a shaky and hasty start, it is quickly stabilised as the narrative steams forward.
A special mention to the characterisation of various supporting characters. A film is never about just its lead pair, and director-writer Geetu Mohandas fleshes out all her supporting characters with intricate detailing, giving each of them their own insecurities. Some notable supporting characters for me:
– Ameer (Roshan Mathew) is a speech-impaired boy with an earnestness in his love and an honesty in his eyes. He wants to fight for what he wants despite his limitations. In my opinion, his voicelessness could be a hint about the muted lives of the LGBTQIA people in the trenches of society.
– Latheef (played by Sujith Sankar) has less screen time but is an incredibly brilliant character. In the few minutes that we see him, we see his pain and longing for Akbar. His unrequited love for Akbar is beautifully communicated in a crisp and concise scene. He yearns for the love of Akbar and is even ready to change himself to make Akbar comfortable and yet he suffers in silence.
– Mulla (enacted by Sanjana Dipu) is a precious little teenager struggling with self-identity and acceptance. Complex emotions such as angst, confusion and fear have been masterfully depicted by Sanjana. Carefully written and crafted by Geetu Mohandas, Mulla is a character that requires extreme dexterity to essay and Sanjana does it with aplomb.
But Moothon belongs to Nivin Pauly. Here, we see a side to Nivin that has never been showcased before. He is raw, vulnerable and scared, yet also vengeful and full of angst. The world has hardened him into an indifferent and lethal person. Pauly executes the range of emotions of a naïve and earnest person as well as of a ruthless gangster with absolute finesse. Roshan Mathew pitches in with a heart-achingly beautiful role. The eagerness that he conveys through his eyes is terrific. A glimmer in his eyes captivates us from the moment he comes on screen. Director Geetu Mohandas effectively immerses us in the dark and disdainful by-lanes of Kamathipura. She captures the gritty milieu of the location excellently. The cinematography by Rajeev Ravi deserves a special mention for capturing the crudeness of the people and the claustrophobic spaces with minimal lights authentically. The background score elevates the mood of the film as well. While the film does try to overstuff the narrative, one can overlook the flaws in the larger scheme of things.
As mentioned earlier, Moothon is much more than just a story of two men. There are stories of love, acceptance and longing intertwined in the narrative. Moothon opens our eyes to a rudimentary and crass world, and offers a peek in to the troubled lives of some of its people. These people and this world are ubiquitous yet purposefully invisible to our eyes, much like the marginalized communities in our world today. Moothon wakes us up to this hard-hitting and selfish world.