When you follow a film maker long enough, you will know what to expect out of the movie he is coming up with next. Sometimes, it puts pressure on the director to make the same kind of movies again and again because that is what people want from them. Like K.S. Ravikumar for instance (Paarai was one movie he moved away from and it tanked. He quickly corrected his course). But how much ever a director tries to show difference, his belief system shows up in his works. If the director is in the field long enough, we can see him contradict is older movies, which shows signs of growing and maturity. Lets see what Mysskin films have in common.
Have you ever come across this person, when you see him first, you are awed by his knowledge and his views. You want to listen to him, pay attention and give it all. Then when you get close to him, read what he suggests and then some more, you feel like you understand what he is talking. You are able to engage in discussion than simply sit in awe. Then you seek more books, more content and more knowledge while he keeps on reading the same books again and again. At some point when you have a conversation with him again, you find him stuck in where he was and admiring himself for his taste and knowledge but you feel he is boring you.
That is what happened to me with Mysskin.
When I watched Chithiram Pesudhadi, I was spell bound. Even with the climax which felt more like a compromise, I couldn’t process my emotions about what I saw and then I went in again. Anjadhe gave a different feeling altogether and I could see that I am becoming a fan of Mysskin. So with each film, I wanted to be an audience member that mysskin deserved. I started reading the books shown in the movie and then the subtle homage he does with his shots to his favorite directors. Then I could see a pattern. May be his philosophy.
All the lead characters in his movies are trying to fit in, feel belonged or chasing forgiveness in their own way. I hope it is not spoilers for movies released 12 or 8 years ago. If you don’t want to know about those movies, you can skip to the last part of the blog post.
Chithiram Pesudhadi : The heroine’s father gets caught red handed by the hero in a place he should’t have been (I have different point of view about that.. anyway), his way of asking forgiveness is to hang himself. The hero on the other hand is a goon, where the heroin is the angel who rescues him from the rut he is in. When the angel leaves, he goes back to his old ways, yearning for someone to come and rescue him. Getting rescued and forgiveness is such a great feeling, it can be evoked in anybody. That is why Chitiram Pesudhadi stood out even though the story is a beaten to death love story.
Anjathey took it up to the next level. There is an outcast who everybody thought will never belong, frauds his way into acceptance. That is just entry point but he proves himself in line of work to become who he is. And then there is a shining star who everybody thought would become a great professional descends into dark side. He too years for forgiveness and rescue. His rescue comes to him as death. The hero though was a wastrel took responsibility in his job to feel belonged. The other guy though descending into the dark side couldn’t come to terms with things he had to do thus feel lost.
The most controversial film of his career, Nandalala is about two people searching for their mother. One who wants to give her one tight slap and the other who wants to give one loving kiss. The journey of this two misfits form the story. As usual these guys are not accepted by society and they want to feel belonged and that is what happens in the end.
This theme of rescue and forgiveness can be seen in all his movies, which reached to its peak with Onaayum Aatukuttiyum. Mysskin in his own ways tries to bring the fables to motion picture but struggles so hard to make it less obvious at the same time, he wants the viewers to find the hidden sub-texts and meanings. Aise kaise chalega bhaiya is what we want to say at the end of the movie.
With each of his movies, Mysskin tries to remove the padding up of cinematic norms and just tell a raw story of what he wants to tell. Psycho didn’t work for me because how he said it. It felt like he was very impatient at the lack of knowledge of the viewers and didn’t feel the need to explain everything. The narration had only bare minimum necessities and that is why we couldn’t connect to the characters as well as we did to the narrators in his previous movies. If you walk into the theater giving your sympathy to the characters before the movie starts, psycho will work for you. If not, you can skip it.
Mysskin’s universe advocates unconditional love. To the killers, to the bandits or even a serial killer. He doesn’t bother explaining why you need to love them. He just wants you to love them as they are. If you can do that, well most of his films will work for you. Even Jithan, in which he wrote the screenplay and dialogues. If you want a reason to give your love and sympathy to the characters, his latest movies are not for you and might leave a bad taste in your mouth.
It would be interesting to see what comes from his arsenal next. But I kinda know the thread of the movie.
P.S. Mysskin is often unfairly criticized that his films are a copy of other language films. Nandalala came into fire that it was an scene by scene copy of Japanese Movie Kikujiro. Even that story follows the duo of misfits. But the emotions that Mysskin evokes with the help of Ilayaraja is magical. Listen to this
A friend also pointed out to me Mysskin may have BDSM tendencies. His heroes take pleasure in slapping the girl and the girl smiles back. And the girls show their love by slapping, punching or pinching. Psycho had such a scene. Tupparivalan did. If you felt the same let me know in comments.