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Kazhuvethi Moorkkan Movie Review: A noteworthy addition to the list of anti-casteist social dramas- Cinema express

Kazhuvethi Moorkkan Movie Review: A noteworthy addition to the list of anti-casteist social dramas

This intricately-written film needed better craft

Published: 26th May 2023
Kazhuvethi Moorkkan Movie Review: A noteworthy addition to the list of anti-casteist social dramas

Director Sy Gowthama Raj's Kazhuvethi Moorkkan re-introduces Arulnithi as an impressive ruffian with the heart of a kid. He gets a thunderous intro, a couple of effective punchlines, a childhood love angle and solid emotional stretches. Though these checklists might picture the film as a machismo glorification vehicle, it is an anti-casteist social drama at its core. Just like the iconic Thevar Magan, the protagonist of Kazhuvethi Moorkkan (Arulnithi) is also from a dominant caste, but there is a twist. He isn't a messiah like Sakthi Vel, instead, he is a victim of casteism like a Seevalperi Pandi. Even though the film borrows a couple of ideas from these classics it raises above them several notches by having its heart in the right place. For starters, Moorkan is aware of his caste privilege right from his childhood and renounces it. Take the scene where Santhosh Prathap's Bhoominathan( Moorkkan's best friend from an oppressed caste) points out that he can't even think of having a handlebar moustache like Moorkkan because of the social construct, Moorkan without second thought replies, "Idhu verum masuru dhaan da, en paati kaaga vechi iruken. Unaku venam na sollu ipove eduthudren." If we notice keener, we realise that Moorkkan never twirls his moustache and boasts about his  valour like the 'upper caste messiah for social justice' films. The director even makes it very clear that his brawls are just result of his unquenchable rage and it's quite apt that his character has been titled Moorkkan, which translates to a furious man. Quite, interestingly Santhosh's character who is the stark opposite has been named Bhoomi, as he is all-bearing and perhaps gets stomped upon by the same people he cares for.

Cast: Arulnithi, Santhosh Prathap, Dushara Vijayan, Rajasimman, Yaar Kannan
Director: Sy Gowthama Raj

While most of the films mounted over the bromance of the lead male stars tend to forget the rest of the characters, Gowthama Raj does a highly commendable work with every single character. Be it the parents of Moorkkan, Bhoomi's mother and fiancee or the investigating police sub-inspector, none of these roles are unidimensional. Even when a few performances let down the gravity of the scene like the commissioner's interrogation with Munishkanth's Unmai, the effort that has gone behind the writing is always evident. The one character that feels alien to the entire world of Kazhuvethi Moorkkan and hardly has an impact on the story is Dushara Vijayan's Kavitha, the rough, ludic lady love of Moorkkan. Despite being a caricature most of the time, Dusharara sells the role well and I liked the little suspense around her caste identity which only gets revealed in the end.

Director Gowthama Raj, who had registered his strong views against casteism with his debut Raatchasi, has once again delivered a compelling social drama that makes direct references to real-world politics. Without spelling out the names of the castes of Moorkkan and Bhoomi, he boldly, yet subtly drops hints in the form of the border colour of the veshti worn by Moorkkan's father, the Prashanth fan club board in Bhoomi's side of the village.

Though the film takes care of the social messaging part by integrating it with the screenplay for most of the part, without resorting to preaching, Moorkkan goes all guns blazing with a monologue in the pre-climax. But, even then the director ensures that Moorkkan never comes across as a dominant caste apologist and keeps his anti-casteist stand high. The dialogue in this sequence is masterfully crafted and poses the right questions to both the dominant caste and Dalit mobs.

It is quite commendable that the film manages to touch upon intricate angles like scheduled caste people looking down upon scheduled tribes and dalits who managed to escape the oppression with power and education, without deviating from the main plot.

Kazhuvethi Moorkkan, just like its protagonist, isn't free of flaws. The crucial post-interval death which should have shaken Moorkkan seems to have a shockingly less impact on him emotionally. I understand that he is consumed by guilt and the mystery surrounding the death to even react, but it doesn't quite come across. In the second half, Moorkkan gets framed for a crime and goes into hiding for a long time, but he looks majorly afresh for months! This feels particularly odd as he is stuck in the wilderness with the same shirt. With hardly any supplies in access, it is unsettling that Moorkan manages to look the same for long and takes down people with the same vigour. It is the solid performances of Arulnithi and Santhosh Prathap that urge us to look past the limitations of the film. Despite experimenting with an unexplored genre, Arulnithi brilliantly plays to his strengths and Moorkan will surely be remembered as one of his notable characters. Santhosh, on the other hand, aces the role of the dalit youngster Bhoomi. His calming presence and demeanour add a lot of value to the politics that the film stands for.

Despite Kazhuvethi Moorkkan having a thin storyline, it is Gowtham Raj's screenplay that spices up the process. Though the first half portions of Moorkkan as the happy-go-lucky youngster introduces us to all the principal characters and warms us for the main conflict in the second half, I sincerely believe the film would have been more gripping if Gowtham had introduced for the non-linear screenplay much earlier, without holding it back for the latter half. Scenes like Moorkan meeting Bhoomi's grieving mother to find a solace amidst the chaos is an example of fine screenwriting. Moments like this almost had the potential to elevate the film to a bigger league, but alas! Gowtham Raj and editor Naagooran for some reason choose to chop down these moments in a hurry akin to an enraged Moorkan. Several delectable scenes and emotions get bulldozed because of the constant urge of the filmmaker to pack in as much as possible. How I wish he had taken Bhoomi's route of prioritising human emotions and taking things slow but in the rightful way possible.


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