Durai's reasonably poignant look at reality and crushed dreams!

Kudos to Ajeethkumar

Stars: Ajeethkumar, Jothika & Raghuvaran
Music: Deva
Director: Durai (debut)
Released: February/March 2000
Reviewer: Sandya Krishna
Rating: 2 1/2 stars

Wish fate were like clay.  You can bend, twist, mould & shape every aspect of it with your bare hands.  But unfortunately for Ajeethkumar, he eventually realizes that 'fate' among many others things, has never been under his control.  Debutant director Durai tells a powerful story with apt support from Ajeethkumar of a youth bound by hope, trust, love and fate, but Durai's presentation and supporting characters lack the depth necessary to make this a commercially successful venture.

Ajeethkumar struggles for over eight years of his precious youth to become a music director in the tamil film industry.  His trials and tribulations are plenty, but his family steadfastly supports him throughout.  During the course of his journey to reach the top, his path crosses those of the audio cassette shop owner, Manivannan; Jayaganesh's youthful and bubbly daughter, Jothika; Jayaganesh, a concerned father who eventually questions Ajeeth's credibility and his goals and even minute characters like the head-strong music director Hanifa, who squints his eyes at Ajeeth with anger and disbelief.  His brother, Raghuvaran along with his family which includes his wife Sitara, a younger sister and father, love & support his urge to accomplish something substantial in his life.  Just about every Indian (or even just another person walking the roads) viewing Mugavari, gradually begins to feel an urge to help Ajeeth reach his goals.  But 'fate' shows its ugly head, forcing Ajeeth to make a choice, causing by far, the most dramatic conclusion seen in tamil cinema.

Director Durai, Jothika, Ajeethkumar and P.C.Sriram on the sets of MugavariAjeethkumar's road to the top, in real life, continues with his sixth credible venture since Unnai Thaedi's success in early 1999.  Mugavari actually holds a lucrative, bold, experimental role for Ajeethkumar with a variety of emotions; pain, longing, unhappiness, momentary happiness, love, faith, trust & ambiguity.  He blends these emotions to good proportion and show his true colors through his acting.  The next generation of Kamalahassan is indeed gradually in the making.  Jothika floods the screen with zest, joy & confidence as she falls head over heels for Ajeeth, struggles to divulge her love to Jayaganesh, tearfully continues her life as Praveen Bali's wife.   Raghuvaran's dig-the-hole story repeated by Jothika in another scene is quite a laugh riot.  Several of the romantic scenes between Jothika & Ajeeth are well-crafted and tastefully picturized.

Though Mugavari questions so many of our motivations and desires in life, it also fails in a few categories.  The two drunkards pouncing on Ajeeth to do yedu-budi favors for them for a chance at composing music along with Ajeeth's younger sister's concluding ooLai asking permission to earn for the family, seem forced and unnatural in a film that shows incredible maturity throughout.  Similarly, the fact that Ajeeth seeks to be a music director without carrying a single instrument as accompaniment misses the target.  The rain drenching rendition of Ye Nilavae is also somewhat cliched (at least the rain could have been avoided!).  Finally, the film's ending, though very powerful in concept, does not seem so in overall presentation.  Ajeeth's decision to walk a different road could have been given more punch and strength to evoke more audience sympathy and emotion.

For a debutant director, Durai's story and direction are quite commendable.  He shows potential and imagination for better film making in the very near future.  Balakumaran & P.C.Sriram serve as other lifelines to Mugavari.   The former's pen does all the talking with sharp, poignant dialogues (especially those involving Ajeeth, Jayaganesh & Jothika) while the latter's camerawork provides a visual treat with colors and concepts far superior from those seen in traditional tamil cinema.  Considering that the entire theme was based on music, Deva should have composed some of his best tunes.  Instead, his music is a substantial disappointment, as the film drags with Poo Virinjaachu from That Thing You Do and Ye he he.. KeechukiLiye from Santana's Maria Maria.  Ye Nilavae also falls under the passable category.

Mugavari does not lose its address on screen! :-)

Sandya Krishna

Original Photograph (Mugavari): Thanks to Anandha Vikatan
Photograph scanned & reworked by: Sandya