Mounaguru, the title suggests that the movie is about a character that does not say much or does not say anything at all. In his third outing at the box office, Arulnidhi chooses to do something very different from his previous two. Not that his first two movies were similar to each other; Vamsam and Udhayan were films in very different settings. But, Mounaguru is different, not just in the context of Arulnidhi’s fledgling career, but also in the contest of contemporary Tamil cinema itself.
Mounaguru is basically a thriller which brings together many threads and ties them up in an intriguing knot so that you don’t know which thread leads where until the director decides to reveal it to you. The basic requirement of a thriller is its unpredictability and Mounaguru fulfils that. It tells the story of a young man who is a simpleton. In fact, he is so straightforward that he does not know how to smartly avoid trouble even when it comes straight at him. This lands him in quite a lot of hot water. It is such an incident that brings him into the view of a corrupt police inspector, who sees him as an enemy. As a result, he is unwittingly dragged into a story that he knows little or nothing about.
Revealing anything more about the story would be a bit of injustice to the film. And, it would also be a very hard job to describe it in a few lines because there are so many characters and minute details so important to the central plot. Almost every single character and scene shown in the movie contributes significantly towards the movement of the story, which is what sets Mounaguru apart.
The first person to be congratulated on Mounaguru is its director Shantha Kumar. More than his direction, his writing impresses hugely. But, writing a script that is gripping and intelligent is one thing, executing it without compromises in contemporary Tamil cinema is quite another thing; especially for a debutante. But, Shantha Kumar has done exactly that, credit is also due to the producer for having faith in the script. The movie almost never deviates from the central plot; there is a bit of family and romance, but that can be put down to the necessity of etching Arulnidhi’s character. It is not hero-centric. The antagonist and other characters are as important, perhaps even more, because they are the active players in the plot. And, the director’s decision to bring in a pregnant lady cop as an investigator at a key juncture in the film takes you by surprise; Uma Riyaz Khan produces one of her best performances to date. And, the intelligent investigation procedure is superb. The best thing about Mounaguru however is the fact that there is no heroism! Mounaguru takes you to one of the most unpredictable climaxes in recent times that justify the title of the film!
One can go on and on! But, the fact is that you have to watch the film to enjoy it. Arulnidhi has found his break in his third film. The first two were not bad, but they did not allow him to make a mark as a performer. Mounaguru fits him perfectly. For most parts, all he has to do is underplay and for an inexperienced actor, that can be one of the toughest things. John Vijay turns in the performance of his career as the lead antagonist; you could say that he is the cornerstone of the plot. But, the show stealer, one must admit is Uma Riyaz Khan. Fair to say that you never expected such a powerful performance from her; she takes you by surprise. Iniya, after her commendable show in Vaagai Sooda Vaa, does not have much scope here. Remember Dhanush’s ‘come to my home’ friend from Aadukalam; he delivers a small gem as a mental asylum inmate.
The best thing about Mounaguru, as said earlier, is the fact that it does not have much time or space for anything except its central plot. So, music plays only a supplementary role. The songs are very few and the BGM does not stick out, demanding attention. The camera, which would have been tempted to go in for that dim and dark look for the thriller feel, keeps things real and normal. There is no excessive darkness or artificial tones imparted which only enhances the originality of the movie. The fights too look original. There is not a single instance of anyone flying six feet off the ground!
Mounaguru is one of the prototype thrillers to come out of Kollywood. We have watched many English movies and admired the way they follow the central plot without spoiling the soup with too much romance, sentiment and comedy. This is a Tamil film that does the same. But, the problem with leaning far too much into one genre is that you may alienate the followers of the others. Yes, Mounaguru is for those who love suspense thrillers. There is not much for those who look for ‘all round’ entertainment. It’s sensible, it’s thrilling.
Verdict: Taut, unwavering suspense thriller!