Created: Sat Mar 20 21:15:12 2010 | Last modified: Sat Mar 20 21:17:13 2010
Starring: Rajnikanth, Sharathbabu, Meena
Direction: K.S. Ravikumar
Music: A.R. Rahman
Muthu is among Rajnikanth's best hits and for good reason. It is a moving story of loyalty, devotion, simplicity and sacrifice. It is also a movie which provides plenty of opportunity for Rajnikanth to emote and show his acting talent in two contrasting roles. The fact that it also became a hit overseas, particularly in Japan, is a testament to the cross-cultural appeal of the values highlighted in this movie.
The story: Muthu (Rajnikanth) is the loyal servant of Raja (Sharathbabu) a young Zamindar who lives with his mother in a grand estate with hundreds of servants and all the comforts of life. Muthu is not treated like a servant and is more like a brother to Raja. Their life is all peace and happiness. However, Raja's uncle Ambalathan (his mother's brother, played by Radha Ravi) has designs on Raja's estate and for that reason wants to get his daughter married to Raja. But circumstances lead to a situation where both Muthu and Raja fall in love with the same girl - a beautiful drama artiste Ranganayaki (Meena). Raja spurns Ambalathan's daughter. This enrages Ambalathan. When he learns of Muthu's love for Ranganayaki, Ambalathan uses this chance to separate Muthu and Raja. Ambalathan's servant poisons Raja's mind. As a result, Muthu is accused of disloyalty and thrashed in front of the whole household. Raja's mother, on learning of this, reveals the truth about Muthu's past. We learn that Muthu is, in fact, the son of the former Zamindar of an even bigger estate who used his wealth generously for charitable purposes. In a flashback sequence, it is revealed that Raja's father (the old Zamindar's cousin, played by Raghuvaran) had cheated the Zamindar by misappropriating land meant as gifts for poor couples and the unwordly and benevolent Zamindar had not only forgiven him, but also gifted all his remaining wealth to his family before going away as a hermit. Raja's father and mother had been filled with remorse at their own treachery and the Zamindar's kindness and Raja's father had committed suicide soon after the Zamindar had left. As a penance, Raja's mother had adopted Muthu, the Zamindar's baby son as their own and Muthu grows up as a simple, lovable human being without any knowledge of his past in accordance with the Zamindar's wishes. Back in the present, however, Muthu's hermit father returns to the new estate and in the end plays a role in resolving the situation. Ambalathan, who in his rage, had tried to murder Raja and pin the blame on Muthu also becomes chastened when Raja marries his daughter. However, Muthu's father leaves once again before everybody could meet him and seek his blessings and forgiveness.
This is a powerfully emotional movie, particularly in the second half. The first half is full of light banter and humour while the second half becomes heavy and serious. Muthu's father's role (played again by Rajnikanth) is a solid contrast to Muthu and Rajnikanth shows his skill in handling the two roles effortlessly. The background score is also suitably moving in the powerful scenes. A.R. Rahman was close to the height of his career during this period and it shows in the songs. The title song is particularly rhythmic and melodious. The whole story is well knit and the script does justice to the story. Even with a complex storyline, the director has shown skill in separating the wheat from the chaff. Each scene is meaningfully constructed and builds the momentum of the story effortlessly. All the songs are melodious and add rather than detract from the movie. The scenic beauty of the rural locales (particular the scenes shot in Kerala) transport the viewer to a different world. As a pure entertainment package, "Muthu" delivers on all counts.
I would rate this movie 5/5, not just because of Rajnikanth's acting but also because of the classy execution and the overall polish. Well worth watching.