Kaatrin Mozhi is director Radha Mohan’s latest film with Jyothika. The two had previously worked together in Mozhi that came out in 2007. Kaatrin Mozhi is the Tamil remake of the Bollywood hit Tumhari Sulu (2017) directed by Suresh Triveni, starring Vidya Balan.
The comedy-drama is centred around Vijayalakshmi Balakrishnan, a home maker, played brilliantly by Jyothika. Vijayalakshmi aka Viji dreams of being a working woman and therefore seizes every opportunity that comes her way.
One day she’s the owner of a taxi company and the next hour she’s someone else. Her husband Balakrishnan (played by Mynaa fame Vidarth) plays along with all of Viji’s whims and fancies and their relationship is one that’s quite rarely seen in Tamil cinema. The film, in fact, begins with Viji participating in a community contest, cheered on by her husband and son. Surely Viji’s character is one that Tamil cinema has not seen before. She believes in her will to do things, has an enviable sense of humour and a vivid imagination.
Viji’s character is best described in dialogues like, “I’ve participated in many lemon-and-spoon races. I’ve come first in a few but all that matters to me is that not once have I dropped my lemon,” and, “My sister often asks me on how my puris alone are so fluffy. I tell her I don’t know why but if I make puris, they’re always fluffy.”
Even when her sisters – twins Rajalakshmi and Jayalakshmi (played by Sindhu Shekharan and Seema Taneja) – and her father (played by Mohan Ram) bring up the fact that she hasn’t even completed her 12th standard, you can see that it never once deters her spirit. She bounces back like her fluffy puris.
Viji is the spring from which her husband draws his energy. Balakrishnan aka Balu is not your typical Tamil cinema spouse either. He works at a managerial level in a tailoring unit, and does very little to stand up for himself at work. And more importantly, he does not discourage Viji from doing what she wants, at least in the beginning.
Now for the film’s story. Kaatrin Mozhi, while sketching some very endearing characters, follows Jyothika on her quest to find work that she loves. She auditions for an RJ contest by chance and here again she impresses with her can-do attitude.
Lakshmi Manchu plays Maria, the radio station head, with much ease. She’s compassionate and extremely empowered and finds a compelling spirit in Viji which she gambles upon to give her a chance. The sort of camaraderie the two women share is the film’s best equation.
Even if Kaatrin Mozhi has its flaws, it gets its game right with its women characters.
Now, how does Kaatrin Mozhi compare with its original? Radha Mohan has tweaked the film to include some of his trademark elements and this can be a sour patch for those who’ve seen Tumhari Sulu.
Neelakandan (MS Baskar), Moorthy (Manobala), Saroja Mami (Uma Iyer) are characters introduced in the remake. While the film has its funny moments, especially the exchange in the car immediately after the lemon-and-spoon race, some of it deflates like a punctured balloon.
The distasteful comedy tracks could’ve been avoided. The shopkeeper sequence from the original is very disappointingly done in Kaatrin Mozhi and so is the relationship established between Viji and Balu. Also, Yogi Babu’s comedy track relies upon body shaming jokes and one feels let down here as well.
Kaatrin Mozhi has also gambled with a few important sequences from the original, and here they lost an important opportunity to strengthen the husband and wife equation, one that was perfectly done in Tumhari Sulu. Another major let down is Vidarth's character, which can be unconvincing at some points.
Kaatrin Mozhi’s soundtrack is mildly disappointing with the title track sounding almost like a radio jingle. Actor Kumaravel, who plays Kumki (Viji’s show manager), has done whatever he can with his character.
At the end of the film, one hopes this question is never asked – Who played it better? Jyothika or Vidya Balan? – simply for the fact that the two can never be compared. Kaatrin Mozhi is Jyothika’s most beautiful and natural portrayal and perhaps in her experience as an actor will remain a close-to-heart character.
For those who’ve not seen Tumhari Sulu, Kaatrin Mozhi will be a breezy watch to take home a memorable woman character.
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film's producers or any other members of its cast and crew.