Sufiyum Sujayathayum — A non magical love story

Aditi Rao Hydari as Sujatha

Sufiyum Sujathayum is a Malayalam movie directed by Naranipuzha Shanavas and produced by Friday Film House. It stars Aditi Rao Hydari, Dev Mohan and Jayasurya in lead roles. It is the first Malayalam movie to be released exclusively on an OTT platform (Amazon Prime in this case) due to the COVID-19 crisis scenario. How did the love story fare?

When it rains, settle in with a cup of tea, and this can be worth your time. It’s a movie that demands your time and you have it time to be absorbed into it’s world.

Sufiyum Sujathayum is set in a border Karnataka villiage which somehow lives in the past. Sujatha (Aditi Rao Hydari) is a young mute woman born into a wealthy upper caste Hindu family. She falls in love with a Sufi priest (Dev Mohan) who comes to the villiage to visit his master. While this love story ends tragically and Sujatha gets married off to an NRI, years later the Sufi’s death forces Sujata to return.

The Story

As far as stories go, this one is pretty simple in it’s execution. You have seen more or less of all of these plot points executed before in other love stories, whether it’s a person getting a remnant of the other in their first meeting and now has to find the other to give back, or passing of notebooks back and forth as carriers of love. What had to make Sufiyum Sujathayum unique was it’s execution of how it bought the Sufi, his circumstances and struggles to the reel. But unfortunately, this aspect of the character is not explored at all. The movie does not have a conflict that anyone is actively trying to solve, you could consider Sufi’s and Sujata’s love to be of conflict, but the only reason you feel that is because you know that a muslim man and hindu woman could not get together in that setting and time, it is not something that the movie explores. If you give it more than a minute, the climax will stop making sense as well, so don’t do that (I guess).

Cinematography and Soundtrack

You cannot watch this movie and not notice the cinematography and production design for it. It’s setup in a Kerala Karnataka border villiage, the setting itself painting a beautiful picture for the movie. The love story of Sufi and Sujatha is set in the distant past, where there are pen drives, but they are not used by the common, people travel in ambassador cars and there are rape recorders around. The atmosphere whether it’s inside the mosque or Sujatha’s house is a treat to the eyes and the movie wins on that.

The soundtrack by M Jayachandran isn’t as memorable as of some other tragic love stories he did (Ennu ninte Moideen comes to mind). I can’t remember any one music from the movie, but it does gel in well with the mood created.

Characters

Aditi Rao Hydari plays Sujata who is a mute upper caste woman who falls in love with a visiting Sufi. While the part of her being mute doesn’t have any repurcussions on the movie itself (it would have worked as such if she wasn’t mute), I think it might be a smart move as she can’t dub for herself. Dev Mohan, a debutant actor, is impressive as Sufi, his long beard and stoic glances does evoke a sense of calm and superiority. He is said to have trained for Sufi dancing to prepare for this role, but there are constant cuts to these scenes, sometimes even cutting any discernable part of him off making the scenes hard to believe. The character is also just named Sufi, I’m not sure if what that represents if anything.

Jayasurya plays the next important character of Sujatha’s husband, Dr. Rajeev who is not a doctor by profession. It is him that you feel for, rather than Sujata or the Sufi and to be frank they might even be the negative characters in the movie. Jayasurya plays the character with restraint and most times you do feel the pain coming off him.

There are two love stories in Sufiyum Sujathayum, one of them is Sujatha’s which transforms into hate and potential depression harming everyone around her, the other is Rajeev’s that transforms into sacrifice and resentment. The story does not give you closure for either, but both exist simultaneously, with each other and at the same time without.

When it rains, settle in with a cup of tea, and this can be worth your time. It’s a movie that demands your time and you have it time to be absorbed into it’s world.

What it could have been

As always Spoilers.

My biggest gripe with the movie is how it sets up a world where there is a Magic but does not exploit any of this. Sufi is set up as a person of influence in the first act as he brings hoards of people to a closed mosque by singing. I took this as a call for a movie with magical realism. There are different other instances which looked like setups for this, but none that transpired. One of my biggest was how Sufi mentioned that Sujata will speak when a tree beside the mosque blossoms. The tree does blossom the night Sufi dies, it shows up in plot multiple times, but makes no impact on it nevertheless.

As I mentioned in the review, there are two love stories in the film, one of Sujatas and another of Rajeevs. From the onset it is pretty clear that Sujatha and Sufi aren’t going to make it, so I expected closure for at least Rajeev. When Sujatha visits Sufi on his grave, the story takes it that Sujatha somehow got closure. But for one, Sujatha’s issues were not with seeing Sufi, two, she achieved that by cheating her husband and making him dig up a grave. To see Rajeev and Sujatha get together only brings closure to the movie, not the story itself. I hoped that at the very least Sujatha’s gesture would be in support of Rajeev, let’s imagine she found the passport only after Rajeev and his dad left, she falls in the river as she is crossing. She magically escapes and reaches them. I believe it would have said the tale of Sufi’s magic and Sujatha’s dedication to Rajeev rather than just another selfish motive.

But beyond all, I hoped it had some magic ✨

Engineer. Driven by Passion.

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