Mookuthi Amman movie cast: Nayanthara, RJ Balaji, Urvashi
Mookuthi Amman movie director: RJ Balaji, NJ Saravanan
Mookuthi Amman movie ratings: 2.5 stars
The 1990s saw a stream of Amman movies. When RJ Balaji announced Mookuthi Amman, I assumed it would be a throwback to a VFX-heavy movie showing god performing a series of magic tricks while hunting down a bunch of bad guys. And I was not expecting a film where AP Nagarajan’s Thiruvilaiyadal meets V Shekar’s Kaalam Maari Pochu by way of Kodi Ramakrishna’s Ammoru.
Mookuthi Amman is definitely a throwback to devotional movies that took the “god will pluck your eyes out if you lie” threat to a whole new level. And yet, Mookuthi Amman is also very different from the films that we grew up watching. While the earlier god-based movies perpetuated stereotypes and strengthened our fears about god, Mookuthi Amman does the opposite. In broad strokes, it shows the evils that will befall common people when they invest their faith in someone or something due to the fear of divine punishment. The film takes on religious dogmatism, a theme that was well handled in movies like OMG: Oh My God! and PK.
Engels Ramasamy (RJ Balaji) is our hero. His name is the combination of two rationalist thinkers (Friedrich ‘Engels’ and Periyar EV ‘Ramasamy’), but he grows up to be a staunch god-fearing adult. While he believes in god, he does not believe in self-proclaimed godmen. And being a small-time reporter in a remote village in Tamil Nadu, he aspires to make it big in the media world by exposing Bhagavathi Baba (Ajay Ghosh), who has built an empire exploiting people’s spiritual sentiments. He is now in the process of acquiring vast swaths of land to establish a spiritual town, and that’s when he runs into Mookuthi Amman (Nayanthara).
Balaji, who has also written and co-directed Mookuthi Amman, drops interesting storylines halfway through the movie. For example, Ramaswamy’s grandfather, played by Moulee, vanishes and appears. He is said to be a communist. Did he turn into a believer in god when he joined Mookuthi Amman’s mission to take down the fake godman? Balaji and Saravanan never care to answer.
And we get to see very little of Mookuthi Amman’s miracles. And it is a big bummer. Nayanthara looks regal, but it is not enough, as she takes her character too seriously. The main problem with this film is that it suffers from an identity crisis. It can’t decide whether it wants to be a spoof or a serious movie. And that muddles the plot to a great extent.
Mookuthi Amman also does a good job of putting certain things in perspective. Especially, how spirituality is exploited to build big business empires. The stretch capturing the dramatic agony stemming from a middle-class family’s lack of progress also strikes a chord. And Urvashi as Ramaswamy’s doting mother hits the ball out of the park.
There is not a single dull moment in Mookuthi Amman even when things don’t add up in terms of logic or continuity. And it is one of the redeeming qualities of Mookuthi Amman.