Mookuthi Amman — The Amman Throwback
Mookuthi Amman is a throwback to the old Tamil Amman movies of the past and a very watchable one at that. The movie isn’t pulling any punches and delivers one message after another strapped onto a confetti cannon 🎉.
Goddess Mookuthi Amman descends on Earth and uses a television reporter to expose fake godmen and babas.
The movie is set in a village in Nagercoil where our hero Engels Ramaswamy (Engels from French Philosopher Friedrich Engels who wrote the Communist Manifesto and Ramaswamy from Periyar E. V. Ramasamy, Father of Dravidan movement) lives with his mother, four sisters and grandfather. Engels, who is a small TV reporter has been trying to stop a project from a self prophesied god man Bhagavathi Baba which would take over all their lands for 6 long years. When he visits an old deserted temple that his family owned, he finds a heroine in his aid — An actual goddess.
Most of the acting in this is believable and R.J Balaji (who is also the director) pulls off the lead character with great comedic timing and over the top antics. He is aided by Urvashi who plays his mother with that ease seen in all her movies this OTT release season. In Soorarai Pottru, Putham Pudhu Kaalai and now Mookuthi Amman, she plays an aging over the top comedic mother character with one emotional scene in there for her to shine (and shine she does). Nayanthara looks regal playing a literal goddess 👸 Whether it’s the Amman character where she is an entire jewellery or the chilling silk sarees, she manages to lead with her magnificent screen presence.
Cinematography and Soundtrack
The cinematography showcases the village of Nagercoil and it’s people beautifully. Whether it’s the deserted lands or hordes of people arriving at a temple to witness a miracle, the shots feel very real and grounded. The film also pulls a leaf from the Amman movies of the past to create the winds and flying leaves all over when Amman appears on screen.
The soundtrack is expectedly over the top for comedy in the first half. The soundtrack to the later half goes into Aigiri Nandini for the Mass mode and that never fails to give me chills.
Mookuthi Amman is an extremely watchable movie especially if you want something to watch with your family. It’s one that you would want to show someone with superstitions and not offend them on it — it plays safe in not rejecting God altogether but makes fun of the all the frenzy surrounding it. (Except may be the part where the goddess is jealous that another deity is worshipped more than her 😕 doesn’t feel like that sat well with the tone of the movie altogether) It’s not just superstitions that RJ Balaji and NJ Saravanan has a go at, they raise a mirror to society in many other scenarios as well (like wedding preshoots 😂)
Full Spoiler territory
The story begins with a setup for arcs for all it’s central characters. The eldest sister was forced to leave school and stay home for her brother and sisters, she is now taken for granted by the whole family. The second sister is studying to be an Air Hostess, she wants leave the family behind as soon as possible and takes everyone for granted. The youngest sister is now into Christianity for some reason. The mother played by Urvashi wants to go to Tirupati, but is blocked by the world every single time she tries. Her husband gave her four kids and just disappeared somewhere. Brother is stuck with them and done with their antics.
Except the mothers’ arc, none of the other ones are actually realised at the end of the movie. It’s true that the eldest sister gets a throwaway line about her wanting a break and them sending her on a one day trip, but that doesn’t feel like resolution — just because she is asking for a one day break from the chores, that shouldn’t be the resolution of the issue. Even during the mother’s arc, she complains of there being domestic violence and that is why she had to fend for herself — but even after, you see them trying to bring their dad back home. At the end, even though nothing else had changed, she decides that dad was not necessary after all 🙇♂️.
I wished that the goddess was more focused on these problems that were setup before rather than another godman running loose somewhere. If goddess appears before a gang of gundas, what are the chances that she would ask them to kill each other? I would have been content if the concept of there being a goddess was private to the family as well. At the ending of the movie, God appears before an entire live audience and television screens all over the world. At that point, I no longer want to know what happened to this four person family, the whole world knows that there is one God, how does that change things?
When the movie gets to the second half, things get serious with Paalthangam’s confession on domestic violence and why she decided to have four children. I wish we can end the search for their original father figure here. Now the second daughter with the build up given to her gets tempted to one of the Baba’s rallies by his followers who promise her the air hostess post. Here Baba tries to take advantage of her but is not successful at it because Amman intervenes for her, while she runs out of the room, her father notices her and realises the evil scheme he has gotten into. She gets back with her sister with whom she shares an emotional moment. When Baba’s accomplices kidnap the family, the scene ends with the gundas trying to kill their youngest daughter. Here she could call for gods for all the faiths she believes in and the same Goddess would appear before her. At the end when Baba exposes things Engels has done to gain popular support, I wish he showed proofs of things the same things Baba has been doing over the years on a much larger scale in the name of God and religion. A part of this is from the investigative journalism that he has been working over the years and some secretly recorded by his father and handed over. The movie could end with the whole family making Amman prasadam in their kitchen — ending the elder sister’s arc as well.