It was an era of VCR tapes and velvet settees. The iPads of today’s kids were replaced by toys from the roti man. It may have been another lifetime, but one constant ever since has been Rajinikanth.
Muthu was a staple after school activity as I was growing up. I would carefully unsheathe the tape before popping it into the VCR player, and meddle with the play button until the fuzzy screen turned to the letters that spell out his name, with the signature “Hey! Hey! Hey!” in the background.
While the misogyny of the entire film flew past the primary school version of myself, what stayed were the numerous life lessons throughout the movie. Here are 5 such lessons from Muthu.
Oruvan Oruvan Muthalaali, Uzhagil Matravan Thozhilaali
This song deserves its own top 10 life lessons list. In true Rajinikanth style, he does a somersault onto his horse carriage, has his whip in hand, before he swooshes his servant towel around his neck. Yes, the image of Rajinikanth with his vermillion laden forehead, smiling and showing the number 1 with this right hand is seared onto his fans’ minds. The song has some wonderful takeaways.
Mannin Meethu Manithanukaasai Manithan Meethu Mannukkaasai
Manthaan Kadaisiyil Jeyikkirathu Ithai Manamthaan Unara Marukkirathu
Man loves to acquire land, the land in turn loves to consume the man, the land is the one that finally triumphs, the mind refuses to come to terms with this truth
The Superstar then delivers a stanza about wealth
Kaiyil konjam kaasu irundhaal, nee thaan adharkku ejamanan, kazhuththu varaikkum kaasu irundhaal, adhu dhaan unakku ejamanan
If you have a few pennies in your hand, you retain control over it, but if you are drowned in wealth up to the neck, it gains control over you.
And then he takes us above the clouds with
Paravaigal ennai paarkum podhu, Nalamaa nalamaa engiradhu, Mottugal mella, thirakkum podhu, Muthu, Muthu engiradhe
When the birds look at me, I hear them inquire about my well-being, As the buds blossom slowly, I hear them call out,”Muthu! Muthu”
Nobody else could have mimed to this song and given it as much weight as Rajinikanth did. Sure, Vairamuthu’s lyrics certainly deserve some credit. So does SP Bala’s rich, creamy voice and Rahman’s magnificent music that gives the whole song a God-like feel. But us Rajini fans will never give credit to anyone but the Superstar.
Always confirm with Google Translate before saying something in another language
Up until today, the only sentence many of us non-Malaylam speakers can say in the language is “Irruki anaichi oru umma tarum?” This adorable segue from the main storyline is actually crucial to the turn of events that take place after, what with Ranganayaki falling in love with Muthu.
Nevertheless, it is still an enjoyable few scenes as we watch the Superstar be yelled at by strangers before finally approaching K S Ravikumar who does give him a hug and a kiss!
Yecchacha Yechacha, Kachaccha Kachacha!
Okay this may seem like gibberish if you haven’t watched the movie, but it’s actually a damn good message.
Sneezes, coughs, yawns, hiccups, good things, bad things, hunger, fatigue, conception, death and titles never give prior notice, they just show up. When it comes, you can’t ask why, when it leaves you, you can’t stop it.
Next time you feel like telling someone off for coughing in the cinema, think of this!
Always make sure you deliver a love letter in hand, not by throwing it at someone.
“Deepavali parisu kaarthirukithu,”
Arguably the most enjoyable part of Muthu, the love letter that was meant for Vadivelu’s character, Valayapathi, ends up making its way to almost all the members of the Ejamaan’s household. This results in a comical rendezvous at the garden, around a fountain later that night. As all the characters take refuge behind the columns surrounding the fountain, Muthu leaps from one column to another, shocked at how many people had gathered that night.
The build up to this scene and the fountain scene itself was so well written, that we cannot picture it being done any other way. The chemistry between the actors is so real and it a humour that made us laugh without needing to ridicule or offend anyone. That is stellar script writing.
You don’t need to look outside to seek God.
In the second, we see the former Zamindar appear in tattered clothing, scaring even the most evil crook in the Ejamaan’s house, Kaali (Ponnamblam). there is much debate, is this chap a sage, or a homeless vagrant? Watching it now, two decades later, the viewer wonders how two such extremes can look exactly the same.
Wen the Zamindar asks Valayapathi why the lady of the house has gone to the temple, he bursts into a fit of laughter, and responds, to see God. The Zamindar hands him a zinger by pointing at the statue of Lord Ganesha in the background, and asks, “Then who is this?”
Muthu will always be at your service, YOU are always my Ejamaan
Let’s get real. We know Rajinikanth wasn’t reading from a script when he said this. We know he was referring to himself, and not Muthu. And most importantly, we know he was addressing us, his fans. Anyone who thinks any other way is obviously delusional.
Muthu is a beautiful pearl in a string of masterpieces by the Superstar. Happy 68th birthday, Thalaivar, thank you for the brilliant movies and wonderful life lessons.