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.
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’être 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.