Director: Jeffrey Gee Chin
Cast: Vishnu Manchu, Kajal Aggarwal Kitchlu, Suniel Shetty
Mosagallu opens with the birth story of the protagonists – Arjun and Anu. A popular actor, who doesn’t have a starring credit in the film, via a voice-over, explains the term “fraternal twins”. The siblings do not look alike and even though they play twins, they don’t believe in the same set of values. While Arjun seeks Anu’s advice before taking a step in his professional life, Anu flies solo always. Her mantra also seems to be YOLO.
Vishnu Manchu, the story writer of Mosagallu and the guy who portrays Arjun, may have taken inspiration from Gunasekhar’s 2004 Telugu drama Arjun where Mahesh Babu (named Arjun obviously) and Keerthi Reddy played twins. Even in that movie, the older sibling is a woman and the younger sibling is a man. And if you want to dig further, the in-laws of Reddy’s character make elaborate plans to eliminate her, and, here, Anu (Kajal Aggarwal Kitchlu) is married to a serial abuser.
These stray threads of connection do not stick with you because the backbones of these two movies are different. But if you get such questions in a quiz show any time soon, these are the answers you can consider to win the hamper.
There’s ample evidence of sibling-bonding in Mosagallu, but it doesn’t give you a complete picture of their upbringing. They are born into a lower-middle-class family where their parents find it difficult to make ends meet. Hence, Arjun makes it his life’s goal to earn as much money as possible while he still has the energy to run after wealth. He doesn’t resort to sharpening his knives, however. He has a knack for collecting personal details of Americans as he works at a call center. He then uses it to commit cybercrimes, but he doesn’t ruffle the feathers of Indians since he knows that it’ll get him into trouble.
Arjun and Anu love each other and they show it in naïve ways. There’s a really good scene in the third act where Anu comes to her brother’s rescue while the latter gets grilled by a cop. It’s a pure “blood is thicker than water” moment. But somehow these little touches do not elevate the narrative.
When a film talks about the battle between the mind and the heart, the director who’s interested in making a thriller will choose the mind — it means that the filmmaker is okay with turning the tropes upside down and making the principal characters play morally corrupt people. Arjun and Anu don’t physically attack anybody through their schemes. Nevertheless, they get willingly involved in large-scale scams that rob the Americans of their hard-earned money — and dignity. Imagine how foolish and stupid they might feel when they realize that they have been scammed! The victims may even lose their ability to trust their near and dear ones.
Mosagallu could have easily walked down the road of a thriller and painted Anu and Arjun as siblings who are just hungry for money. But the movie oscillates between raising its head as a melodrama and piggybacking on the power of a crime drama. In one scene, the sister-brother duo argue about their plans of expansion, and, in another, they talk about how money cannot buy happiness. Well, if they had earned their properties legally, they could have, maybe, been happy. At least, they wouldn’t have had to keep running from the police.
Businesses have to bear the brunt of disagreements amongst shareholders. It doesn’t matter whether they’re run by family members or a bunch of friends. And the opposing points of view may often relate to the distribution of earnings. Can a sleeping partner, who invests nothing but money, be allowed to take home more than the members who actually get their hands dirty? When Anu gets tired of taking orders from Vijay (Navdeep), who initially helped set up the business, she shows him the door. There are also a couple of scenes that highlight Vijay’s sexism every now and then. Likewise, in a fit of rage, Arjun dismisses Anu’s suggestion by drawing comparisons to her marital life.
Some of these individual scenes are really well-executed and it made me think about how much better Mosagallu would have been had director Jeffrey Gee Chin not worried about moral ambiguities and followed the Mankatha formula instead. Why can’t criminals be criminals?
If there’s any humor in Mosagallu, it’s thanks to Suniel Shetty. He plays a cop, named Kumar, who’s hell-bent on keeping Hyderabad crime-free. But Kumar’s ambitions are regularly cut short by his boss. If he’s given a free hand for a month, he’ll even put the politicians behind bars. The movie, ultimately, is about this spectacular force of ethics versus greed.