Ranjith Sankar's 'Molly Aunty Rocks' bristles with splendid ideas and perspectives on the world in which we live in. Change, and the dire need for it, as in the director's previous films, is the necessitated issue at hand, and filled with exceptional performances from the leading cast, marvelous wit and loads of positivism, 'MAR' is one of the warmest movies to have hit the screens this year.
Molly (Revathi) is a bank employee at Nenmara, near Palakkad, who is back on her job after a long life abroad and who hopes to rejoin her family in the US pretty soon. Having opted for VRS, she gets busy packing her bags for the journey, when a thunderbolt of an IRS official called Pranav Roy (Prithviraj), lands on her doorstep. Alleged of income tax evasion, an embarrassed, but determined Molly, decides to take the puffed-up young officer head on.
Ranjith, without doubt, has moved ahead by leaps and bounds as a director, post-'Passenger' and 'Arjunan Sakshi'. In 'MAR', he has mellowed into a film maker who dares to experiment with his medium. This is a film that brims with life, and which has meticulously trimmed off the dramatics that could have otherwise marred the piece. And Ranjith, almost fussily places one thread against another, tugging against each one of them, before methodically tying them all together.
Molly Aunty, is no messiah. Rather, she is a woman left with no other option but to fend for herself. Her's is the world we live in, and hence the travails and tribulations that she goes through are quite recognizable to each one of us. When she is made to wait an hour at a government office as the official lazes around and whispers into his mobile phone, you feel that her chair looks all too familiar. When she finds the cemetery locked, she doesn't think twice before jumping over the gates to pay a visit to her parents' grave. This display of physical agility is not a premeditated one, as she has no point to prove here to anyone but to herself. She shifts homes too, like many of us have, in the dead of the night, when the very last of the loading - unloading workers has dozed off.
And please, let us not mistake this film as being obsessed with the work culture of a country like the US of A. It earnestly tries on the other hand, to unearth the righteousness that lies buried within each one of us, which we often never even realize exists. Punctuality for instance, is not merely a virtue for Molly Aunty; it's very much a part of an inner discipline that she has internalized over the years. It comes naturally to her, and so do her words of appreciation on being assisted by a casual help at the super market. She takes it in her stride when greeted by frowns and glares, and is quick to apologize when she realizes that she has made a mistake.
In stark contrast to Molly is her mother-in-law (KPAC Lalitha) who derives an immense delight from spending her life in the confines of her kitchen, ruling over the rest of the women in the household. We see her roasting some beef in the opening scene, and later busies herself with cooking and more cooking. Her last thoughts for the day before hitting the bed seem to be about boiled eggs and onions that would make the perfect egg curry for breakfast. She is no doubt the spokesperson of a generation of women that had spent their entire lives making people eat; the kind that would light up when they see their family's stomachs full, and the kind that is fast getting used to the Skype interface, what with their fervent efforts to converse with their dear ones who are far away.
The very subtle barbs of social criticism are never lost on us, and it's only with a smile that we lend an ear to the discussions on nameology that go on. Names sure have changed a lot over the years, and when Ravi, the dentist (Krishna Kumar) asks his young patient as to what his name is, the boy surprises him with his answer - Fleming Raj. The amused doctor is quick to ask his mother's name as well, only to be told that it is Mulla Devi. The auto rickshaw driver, who has had a brush with the film industry, has probably christened himself as Gunesh Kuttan as per the demands of showbiz, while the tax consultant is called Paraman, suggesting that he is the ultimate be-all and end-all in all probability.
We see Molly running literally from pillar to post to find some parking space for her car, as she gets rebuffed from one spot to the next . There is no escape from the offers of support that come free of charge, that a seemingly single woman like her inadvertently invites. The casual proposition from a drunkard is warded off by Molly in no time, while Pranav's assumptions regarding the frustrations that have molded her into the monster that he believes she is, catch her by total surprise.
One should note that there are no deliberate attempts to coerce the viewer into believing that Molly is a superwoman. The gender blurring that is yet productively accomplished, would definitely not make 'MAR' a feminist film. On the contrary, the film accentuates that it is only the individual within you or me - man or woman - with a willingness to swim across the tides to bring about a transformation, that truly matters.
This might sound ridiculous, but I couldn't help wonder how much of Molly Aunty might actually exist in Revathi, the actor. The believability that Revathi brings to her essayal of this energy ball of a woman is what makes this film an out of the ordinary experience. She is flawless in the title role and I would specifically want to draw your attention towards a climactic shot in the court room, when she bites down her tears after having finally been provided an opportunity to speak her mind. I simply cannot imagine another actor in her place, and could vouchsafe for the fact that this is the best performance that I have seen from her till date.
I also wonder if another actor in Prithviraj's place would have readily agreed to play Pranav Roy, and the kind of authority that he flaunts unashamedly and the air of erudition that pervades all around him underlines that the casting is perfect. The supporting cast is excellent as well, be it KPAC Lalitha, Krishna Kumar, Sunil Sukhada or Lekshmipriya. And yes, surprise packages they say, come in small packets and Mamukkoya delivers a bombshell as Salim Mechery, the weirdo lawyer who even gets to walk around in real slow motion!
Molly Aunty, out on a walk on a fine morning, greets an aged couple warmly as they walk past her. The frail old man, possibly unaccustomed to such attention, looks back at her all amused and puts forth a big toothless grin of acknowledgement that speaks volumes of the innate integrity that Molly radiates all around. Molly Aunty, without doubt rocks, and so does her director who has crafted this knockout of a film!