Director: Durai
  Cast: Jodika, Raguvaran

  Release: 19.02.2000

Ajith: a memorable performance!

The film 'Mugavari' addresses the harsh choices faced by human beings weighed down by their ambitions, who see many false dawns, but for whom success remains elusive for ever. It revolves around Sridhar, (Ajith) the 29 year old shy introvert who has only one dream in life - to become a music director. Though the theme is familiar the treatment is certainly upbeat which makes 'Mugavari' a meaningful film.

Music is not just a career option for Sridhar, but a passion, a vocation, an obsession. Fired by the ambition to become a music director he spends eight precious years of his life chasing that will-o'-the-wisp but reaches nowhere.

The film starts with a very homely scene. Sridhar with his father, elder brother (Raghuvaran) and his family has just moved into a new house and they are busy setting up their new home. It is a close knit family whose central concern is with the fulfillment of Sridhar's dream.

Sridhar's accidental meeting with Viji ( Jyothika) at the railway booking counter brings the romantic element into the story. The director has portrayed the blossoming of love between these two kindred souls through tender situations and sensuous song sequences.

After many disappointments and a taste of the callousness of even the hangers on in the film industry, Sridhar is able to strike a sympathetic chord in Producer R.K.Ram. Initially his phenomenal talent almost becomes his undoing. But when he convincingly proves his talent through a soul-stirring song the long awaited chance is almost within his grasp and Sridhar almost reaches the victory stand. Fate then intervenes and Sridhar’s sand castle is razed to the ground.

The most beautiful thing at this juncture is how the whole family rallies around him without even a look of recrimination. In fact when the family friend (Rajiv) talks about his brother's whopping salary, chides Sridhar for wasting time, and even offers him a well-salaried job the father knowing his son’s mind cleverly diverts the talk. Though there is a very slight tinge of regret in the old man's voice, it is well camouflaged. The flame of hope keeps burning especially after the success of Sridhar's millennium concert and he is bent upon continuing his single-minded pursuit, even at the cost of losing his girl in the bargain.

The scenario changes when the elder brother, the sole breadwinner of the family has a massive heart attack. Sridhar is forced to take some hard decisions.

There is a succession of minutely observed emotional moments in the film many of which pull at your heartstrings. Sridhar's brother comes with the arrears payment received from his office but the family cannot decide how to spend it, each one suggesting buying something for the other. Finally they agree that each one should write his/her name on scraps of paper and decide by lot. While the whole family assembled on the terrace watch the rainbow Sridhar sits overwhelmed finding all of them have written only one name - Sridhar! When his brother asks Sridhar why he didn't join them he replies, 'but I saw the rainbow". The subtle poignancy of the scene is not to be missed. A totally humiliated Sridhar drenched in the pouring rain bursts out into a song in the presence of the rapturously listening Producer and the assembled crowd. Bonding with the audience is complete in that moment. There is very subtle humour in the scene when Viji repeats the 'ten- feet- gold' story to his brother and family. The camera focuses on the kids' face with their mother cleverly refraining them from letting the cat out of the bag.

There is no feel-good solution at the end of the story. It is art imitating life. When Sridhar walks away on the lonely road it looks like final capitulation to destiny and soul-destroying conformity. Everyone even the small urchin in rags squatting in the front row in the theatre needs a dream to carry on with the business of life. By evading the crucial question whether there will ever be light at the end of the tunnel for Sridhar the director deprives the audience of their strength to carry on with just their dreams, the sublimation they look for. It leaves you disturbed and depressed.

Balamurugan's dialogue is one of the strong points of the film. They add to the poignancy of the scenes without being platitudinous. Realising how the girl boosts up Sridhar's sagging morale every time it takes a downslide his friend the cassette shopkeeper (Manivannan) tells him, "One can get a girl who loves you, but you have found one who loves your profession too. You are lucky." Sridhar in one scene says, "If you are surrounded by people who are concerned about you, that is heaven". And finally to protect that heaven he decides to barter away his music which is his soul.

Ajith has given a memorable performance. As Sridhar there is a brooding intensity about him making him look vulnerable, which goes well with his role. He carries his winning streak into the new millennium. He excels in the song and dance sequences too. And in the one and only fight scene which blends well with the smooth narration. His pent-up agony, frustrations, angst and fury are almost palpable in every punch he gives. Jyothika as Viji is fresh and sprightly, but her oft repeated 'ayyayyo...’ is jarring. Raghuvaran as the elder brother almost puts everyone else in the shade with his crisp and natural emoting. Others have all done full justice to their roles. Cochin Haneefa as the vainglorious and egocentric music director, a species often seen in tinsel town, is very convincing in the cameo role. The Producer from Bombay is a very good caricature of the typical 'hanji-naji' prototype from Bombay.

P.C.Sriram's camera functions as a character in the film adapting itself to the texture and mood of each scene. Thottatharani's artwork is soothing. There is both passion and pain in Vairamuthu's lyrics especially in lines such as "isayodu vanden, isayodu vazhven, isayodu poven"(I was born with music, will live with music and die with music).

Mugavari is not without its stumbles. Deva's background score is excellent and accentuates the mood. There is melody in 'keechu kiliye...' (Hariharan) and 'nilave nilave...' (Unni Menon). But is that enough in a movie in which the lead character loves music more than life itself? Shouldn't the songs be excellent and extraordinary? One cannot go for the superlative about any of the numbers. The textile garment showroom scene where Ajith and Jyothika meet is a powerful echo of the similar scene in Dil to Pagal Hai.

Vivek strikes the discordant note going overboard in the name of comedy which is out of place in a film of this genre. The mature audience at whom this film is targetted will find it grating. It is unfair on Vivek too because given a chance he can emote well as has been evident in certain emotional scenes in the film.

Talking about Vivek when will the Tamil filmmakers get over their obsession with undergarments...? And stop stripping Vivek in every film..? It is disgusting.

<< back