The world of superhero movies is dominated by Hollywood and Western culture is general. Sure, they invented the superhero back in the ’30s, but its kind of sad to see that it hasn’t evolved internationally. Nitpickers can say that anime and manga does its hair share of representation, but more people know Iron Man than Ratman (you know what that’s a copy of). Even in India, superheroes like Doga are limited to the superniche crowd of Indian geeks, the people who go to the fledgling Comic Con India. So, yeah, superheroes are predominantly Western. Which is why the idea of an Indian, no a Tamil, superhero begs the question: What is this superhero a ripoff of?
It’s a fair question to ask. But I didn’t ask it, because I’m a big fan of Mysskin, a director who has his a distinctive style of filmmaking amidst all the formulas and item numbers (his ‘Yuddham Sei’ was one of my favorites last year). Plus, I was, and still am, on a TDKR high (not related).
Everyone I know hates Mugamoodi a lot, mostly because we’ve seen better, but also because this isn’t a superhero film per se. It’s a coming of age story really, and a kung fu flick. The superhero stuff is really accidental, as Mysskin illustrates through the plot. I actually enjoyed the first half because it was funny in how it took the general superhero cliches and did something with it. Like, it answers the eternal question of how superheroes take a piss on the job. Not the most of lofty of questions, but that’s the level on which it operates. The action is also really good for a Tamil movie, and when I saw Tony Leung’s name in the credits I expected it to be so.
Mysskin is horrible at editing, really. This movie could have been a decent movie if 40 minutes were chopped from it. The villain, Dragon, was not menacing at all, even though he was carrying a hammer wherever he went. This kind of villain has appeared in Mysskin’s movies before. His mask was cool though at the beginning of the movie.
The interesting thing about Mysskin movies is that they have this extremely skewed sense of reality. No Tamil bar has jazz graffiti on its walls, the characters have all seen superhero flicks, there are cool kung fu schools and the hero loves the heroine even though she doesn’t talk much.
Overall, people will watch Mugamoodi and say that it’s a horrible superhero flick. But I don’t really think that that was Mysskin’s point. He subverted the usual superhero origin stories and gave us something different. You might as well just watch the first half alone, because the second half ruins the film entirely.