Befitting his cult status, Tamil film superstar Rajinikanth has developed his own law.
Rajini’s Law – You know, like Newton’s Law, Boyle’s Law or Charles Law.
This is what Rajini’s Law postulates to his fans – The longer I act in Tamil movies, infinitely worse my performance will get.
We believe 99.99% of movies must be watched in the time period when they are made, i.e within 3-4 years of their release (the remaining few like Casablanca, On the Water Front, Citizen Kane or Sholay are classics that transcend time and geography).
So we were initially reluctant to watch Mullum Malarum because 30 years had passed since its release and we wondered if we could relate to the movie. After some hesitation, we decided to take the plunge.
And what a delightful treat Mullum Malarum turned out to be.
For those of us sick and tired of seeing Rajinikanth leaping hither and thither on the big screen with lesser grace than Shakespeare’s Caliban, his performance in Mullum Malarum is a revelation.
Boy, this bloke could act those days. In Mullum Malarum, Rajinikanth has turned in a performance par excellence in sharp contrast to his buffoon-like antics in recent movies like Sivaji and the recent disaster Kuselan.
Rajinikanth was 28 then and perhaps the rough role he was playing in Mullum Malarum reflected well his violent personality of those days.
When Rajinikanth’s character Kali tells the engineer (Sarat Babu), Rendu kai, rendu kaal ponakuda, kali angarava polachikava, sir. Ketta payan sir, avan, we empathize with Kali as we never have with any of Rajini’s other characters with the exception perhaps of the writer in Aarilinthu aravathu varai.
The stars were all perfectly aligned in Mullum Malarum – stellar performances by Rajini and Shoba ably supported by Fatafut Jayalakshmi and somewhat by Sarat Babu (a bit stiff though), a moving story, solid screenplay, fabulous songs and an able hand at the rudder contributed to the movie’s phenomenal success.
More than Rajini, more than Shoba, more than Fatafut Jayalakshmi and more than Illayaraja, Mullum Malarum director J.Mahendran deserves kudos for crafting such a beautiful movie.
Set in a small village in the Annamalai Hills, the story revolves around a gruff character Kali (Rajinikanth), working as a winch operator in the area, and his sister Vali (Shoba).
Two events herald changes in the placid lives of the brother and sister, but more so in the case of Kali – the arrival of a new engineer (Sarat Babu), who also happens to be Kali’s boss; and the arrival of an old lady and her feisty and gluttonous daughter Manga (Fatafut Jayalakshmi).
While Jayalakshmi was a prettier lass, Shoba was a far superior actress and threw in a non pareil performance (by Tamil movie standards). Among the youngsters, Sandhya of dailamo, dailamo fame reminds us of Shoba.
Anger – Leitmotif
Another interesting feature of Mullum Malarum is that romance does not hog the screen-time.
Love or romance is but one element of the myriad facets of life, not the raison d’tre as the brainless twits of Bollywood and Kollywood would make it seem.
There’s ego, there’s greed, there’s anger, there’s frustration, there’s revenge, there’s envy and so many other human emotions that never get adequate play in Bollywood and Kollywood movies because love leaves no room for anything else.
Mullum Malarum dares to be different.
Anger, more than love, is the leitmotif of this charmer. What a relief that love plays second fiddle to other emotions, for once.
Music is another highlight of Mullum Malaram.
Who having heard it once can ever forget the maestro Illayaraja’s hauntingly beautiful music for songs like Senthaazham Poovil, Adi Pennae or Niththam Niththam Nellu.
Of the four main actors in Mullum Malarum, only the men survive.
Both Shoba and Fatafut Jayalakshmi died under tragic circumstances, and are probably entertaining the dwellers of whichever world they now inhabit.
What a shame, what an injustice that classy actresses like Shoba disappear into the mist early and all that we are left with are ugly bimbos like Nayanthara and Trisha to torment us.
In our restless, odyssean quest for quality Tamil films seldom have we come upon a movie as beautiful as Mullum Malarum.
What a glorious aberration amidst the stinking offal we encounter every Friday in Kollywood.
And what a Himalayan tragedy that Rajinikanth has fallen so low over the years. Perhaps, this Caliban should consider retiring permanently to the Himalayas that he’s said to love dearly.