‘Mughizh’ movie review: This Vijay Sethupathi-starrer is a bittersweet exploration of love, loss and grief

Directed by Karthik Swaminathan, ‘Mughizh’ brims with warmth and is strictly for all the dog lovers and their cohorts whom you usually spot at the beach on a Sunday morning

They say that no love is more pure than a dog’s. It is this belief that Mughizh, an hour-long short film starring Vijay Sethupathi, Regina Cassandra and Sreeja Vijay Sethupathi, subscribes to by and large. But unlike your regular children’s films where the animal is either used as a prop or written unnecessarily into the film to accentuate melodrama, everything in Mughizh is so gentle that it makes you overlook the plainness of its storytelling. Its gentleness, perhaps, can be attributed to the short looking more like a family rummaging through old photographs and memories that come along, than having attributes of a film.

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And that is done with careful precision to not end up looking like a giant ball of pretence. For starters, it helps that the short has a cute, little pup at the centre, Scooby, who is the actual ‘star’ of the film. But it is not entirely about Scooby. Again, unlike your regular children’s films, Karthik Swaminathan isn’t dealing with a film about love; it is the opposite end of the spectrum: grief.

The accidental death of Scooby puts a family in a tight spot. In an interview with The Hindu, music composer Revaa said that mugizh, the title, translates to one of the nine stages of blooming of a flower, at the time when it finally gets its fragrance. The flower in Mughizh is Kavya (Sreeja Vijay Sethupathi). She is the one who owns the film; it is about her coming to terms with love and grief. Love, because she is averse to dogs and cannot stand it when her father Vijay (Sethupathi) gets friendly with the animal. She discovers what true love could mean, when her father brings home a pup, Scooby.

Though Mughizh is a sweet film, I wished Karthik had found another, interesting way to stage the dog’s death, even though it makes logical sense how the scene plays out. Similarly, I wished he had found another way to write the resolution which Kavya gets in the end. I understand the constraints of the format, but it felt too easy. But Karthik does something brilliant in the short.

There is a fantastic scene where the parents, Vijay Sethupathi and Regina (Do filmmakers notice her? Do they notice how good she is?), take a backseat for Kavya to live and swallow the emotion of grief. We also get a fantastic line from Sethupathi: “Let her be alone but we’ll keep the door open. She will come out.” It is like the father is saying, “I know she is suffering and I know we are there for her, but ultimately, it’s her journey. Only she can come out of this.”

It is not the job of a film writer to recommend what you should or shouldn’t watch. And this is definitely not a plea. But if you are looking to take your kids out for a movie that would keep them smiling throughout, like it did for me, Mughizh is a strong suggestion. Also, adhering to the social media etiquette, can we “normalise” having more films with shorter durations, focussing on just one aspect of life, like in Mughizh? Perhaps that explains the need for more Vijay Sethupathis too.

Mughizh is currently playing in theatres

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