BR Review: Darbuka Siva’s ‘Mudhal Nee Mudivum Nee’, On ZEE5, Is A Pleasant But Predictable School-time Drama

Sujith Sarang’s cinematography and Darbuka Siva's score sometimes give us more depth and texture than the screenplay itself does

Director: Darbuka Siva

Cast: Kishen Das, Purva Raghunath, Meetha Raghunath, Amritha Mandarine

Language: Tamil

Mudhal Nee Mudivum Nee is directed by Darbuka Siva and it is playing on Zee5. It has a big cast of young actors of which the standouts are Kishen Das, Purva Raghunath, Meetha Raghunath and K Harish.

This is a pretty decent trip back in time to school days, in the late 90s, with a bunch of kids and their issues. Now, these are not exactly my school days. But it doesn’t really matter. Because watching anyone’s school days makes you extrapolate it to your own time back in school. That brings about a sort of nostalgia that is universal and it doesn’t matter what time or what era you’re from.

That is why we’re able to relate to the first half which deals with— falling in love for the first time or drinking beer for the first time or, watching porn, the Khushboo mania of the time, or even the school bully. There was a very distinct memory for me, which I’m not going to share with you because that would be revealing too much.

In short, the first half of the film is structured like little seeds, little seeds with various characters that take us back to a particular time through the things that these characters do. Mudhal Nee Mudivum Nee is perhaps too heavy a title for such a film. Because it has a nice easy flow in the first half. It is a light, easy watch. Sujith Sarang’s cinematography, which is excellent and Darbuka Siva’s score sometimes give us more depth and texture than the screenplay itself sometimes does.

After a while, I started thinking, would this film have worked better with fewer characters, and a deeper look into their issues, rather than this large cast and a lighter look—like with sprinklings of the issues. Still, the first half goes by smoothly, as I said, it’s an easy watch. And it basically gives you the feeling of opening an old album and discovering photographs. You’ve seen these photographs hundreds of times, but when you’re in the mood and you open that album again, these photographs make you smile. It brings back memories, that kind of stuff happens a lot in this movie. It’s all very predictable, but the actors help a lot because they really look like the boy next door or the girl next door, they’ve been made up a certain way and they all look really real.

But the second half turns serious and tries to do too much. And this is where you really get the feeling that maybe the film should have concentrated more on the central couple and the central love angle rather than trying to treat everyone equally. Now, this approach works in the first half, because this love angle is just one of the many, many things that happen in the movie. But in the second half, when it becomes the crux of the film, you feel that the writing does not have the depth that the title deserves.

In the first half, the sharpness of the scenes really works because you get these light throwaway moments. But in the second half, when the same approach is applied, it feels a little underwhelming. For example, a man is able to overcome his homophobia, just like that, after one small talk. Three people who are not really friends suddenly kind of gather together and share their most intimate moments and confessions. These are big plot points and they’re treated very casually like throwaway scenes. Also at two and a half hours, the film feels too long for something that is essentially fairly predictable.

So Mudhal Nee Mudivum Nee does not have the feel and the texture of Darbuka Siva’s music albums. As a director, he settles for something easier, more convenient and something more comfortable. But because we grow to like these characters quite a bit, all of them, the film isn’t a bad watch either.

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"Baradwaj Rangan: Baradwaj Rangan is a National Award-winning film critic. He has authored Conversations with Mani Ratnam and Dispatches From the Wall Corner. His long-form story on Vikram was featured in The Caravan Book of Profiles, as one of their “twelve definitive profiles.” His short story, The Call, was published in The Indian Quarterly. He has written screenplays and works for theatre. He teaches a course on cinema at the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai.."
  
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