Warm Karanth story told with sensitivity

Mookajjiya Kanasugalu

Film: Mookajjiya Kanasugalu

Language: Kannada

Cast: B Jayashree, Aravind Kuplikar, Nandini Vittal, Kavya Shah

Director: P Sheshadri

Stars: 4/5

'Mookajjiya Kanasugalu', directed by P Sheshadri, is visual poetry. Adapted from the eponymous Jnanpith Award-winning novel by K Shivaram Karanth, it is a layered tale of Mookajji, an 80-year-old widow with extra-sensory perception. She is often seen sitting under a peepal tree narrating stories of the objects she lays her hands on.

Even 50 years after it came out, the book remains relevant with its timeless questions about faith, will, love, lust and friendship. Mookajji, in this sense, reflects on the larger dilemmas of human life.

Sheshadri seamlessly weaves in and out of the multiple narratives, aided by an earthy tabla and flute background score by Pravin Godkhindi, often harking back to the stage style. The visuals are vivid, interspersed by sepia hues for the flashbacks, giving almost a dream-like, stream-of-consciousness flow to the narrative.

Out of the multiple stories Mookajji narrates, the most notable are the ones about single mother Nagi and her infidelity, and Mookajji's best friend Thippi. In both, she displays compassion, forgiveness and empathy.

In the midst of these stories, we also witness the unfolding of Mookajji’s life. She is married off as a child but loses her husband even before she can develop any companionship. Since the bereavement, her friend Thippi becomes her rock of support, and Mookajji shows incredible affection for her. The viewer can often identify with the character of Subbaraya, played by Aravind Kuplikar, who is charmed and in awe of Mookajji’s stories.

By the end, the movie leaves you to shimmer in the afterglow of a wonderful story well told, and also to ask questions about morally grey areas, about human mortality, and the importance of relationships. Truly a must-watch.

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