Sufiyum Sujatayum Movie Review: Jinn Mosque in Kabani finds an unexpected visitor in a mysterious young saint, simply named Sufi (Dev Mohan). A disciple of the late revered priest Aboob, Sufi claims this is his first visit in 10 years in the village. The next morning, he does a soulful prayer call that brings even the Muslims who shirk from offering prayers to the mosque. But during the namaz, Sufi unexpectedly drops dead. Sufiyum Sujatayum to Premiere on Amazon Prime on July 3! Here’s All You Need to Know about Jayasurya and Aditi Rao Hydari Starrer.
The news of his death reaches Rajeevan (Jayasurya) in Dubai, who lets his wife Sujata (Aditi Rao Hydari) know of the tragic news. Sujata is saddened, but Rajeevan is anguished and tells her that they are going to Kerala to attend Sufi's cremation. The rest of Sufiyum Sujatayum delves into a flashback story of how a mute Sujata was enchanted by an enigmatic Sufi, as well as Rajeevan's intentions of wanting to be at the cremation.
Naranipuzha Shanavas, who directed Sufiyum Sujatayum, has taken on a very bold story in these harsh times. Playing with religious themes in a film these days is a high risk, even in a state like Kerala that has never shied away from addressing controversial political and religious themes in the past. In a state where we had films like Guru and Narayam releasing in theatres without much fuss, recently a set made to look like a church was vandalised by miscreants.
So in these times, when we are extra-sensitive about religions, Shanavas' take on a Hindu-Muslim love story is asking for controversy. Interestingly, the filmmaker, who had also written the script, doesn't shy away in putting sequences that could bother the hard-nosed fundamentalists, the ones blind to context.
Sufiyum Sujatayum has many verses in praise of Allah (which, you should know by now, is merely an Islamic name for the Omniscient Almighty) in the songs, BG score and the way characters greet each other. Sometimes, a bit too repetitive, as if the director wants to goad the film's expected haters into exposing their bigotry. The Sufi influences are pretty heavy-set.
Dig deeper and you realise all that Sufiyum Sujatayum talks about love and how God is love. After all, Sufism is about accepting universal love, and deepening the spiritual connection with the divine. Sujata's fascination for Sufi begins with instant attraction and develops further when she see him perform sema. Being a dancer herself, she is mesmerised by the way he performs the dance form. With no words to express her admiration, she seeks to imitate him, first through his dance moves and then how he carries his daily rituals.
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This led to sequences that I smiled wryly and shook my head, thinking how the right-wingers would take offense with them (though a scene, where Sujatha throws an alarm clock in grief and it topples a Nataraja statue, could have been avoided). But it was all about a girl trying to express her love for a man, when words aren't her friends. Dev Mohan to Make His Acting Debut with Sufiyum Sujatayum! Actor Spills Beans About His Role in This Jayasurya – Aditi Rao Hydari Starrer.
Unfortunately, the love story isn't set in La La Land, but in this very religious-minded world. The communal monster is lurking in the horizon and we are scared when it would poke its head. That's where Sufiyum Sujatayum surprises you by subverting your expectations.
Yes, there are conversations on religious intolerance. 'Love Jihad' is mentioned a couple of times, and familial opposition are expectedly and melodramatically inserted. However, Sufiyum Sujatayum plays with your fears in setting expectations based on what's happening around you, and then takes a couple of unexpected turns.
Which is why I liked the portions involving Rajeevan more than the rest of the film. Sufi and Sujata's love story, while beautifully shot (Anu Moothedath's camerawork is amazing) and enhanced by M Jayachandran's music, goes for a very predictable and cliched pattern. There are no surprises there, and there are pretty heavy influences of Ennu Ninte Moideen in the narrative. Which is a big issue, since we all remember and love how that film handles inter-religious love story with enough depth. Something that lacks here.
Sufi's character is another problem. In being given an enigmatic feel in his character, he also comes very distant to the viewer and therefore, we never end up feeling bad for him. Also, why does his mentor discourage him from loving Sujata? We are never very clear about his side of the story, and it really matters in a film, where a girl hasn't gotten over this character for 10 years. There are also a couple of ideas that are mentioned but never really mattered much in the plot. Like a tree that never bore fruits doing so on Sufi's return, that connects to a promise he made to Sujata. It bores little to the film's plot ahead.
Rajeevan and Sujata's portions, meanwhile, reminded me a lot of Mani Ratnam's classic Mouna Ragam. Rajeevan isn't a bad guy, as we get this initial impression about him. He is just frustrated that his wife is distant from his for 10 years over a lost love. We can't blame him, for we never get to see why Sujata agreed to marry him and how they had a child together. Her behaviour comes across as odd at times, especially when we get to know more about Rajeevan, making us kind of irked with her obstinacy. This feels more so, when you see how her love story with Sufi ends on such a rushed, understated note (one display of chest-beating and it's done!).
But, despite the underdeveloped character turns, the present-day portions feel more engaging. I just wished that Jayasurya, a wonderful actor who can enliven blandest of the script, had more to do in the film. His performance in the climactic portions are top-notch.
Aditi Rao Hydari is pretty as a picture, and has an expressive face that is needed for the role. Even though, she doesn't exactly look someone who fits the village where she stays. And occasionally, she does go overboard with her emotions.
Dev Mohan is suitably striking as Sufi. Siddique is impressive as Sujata's father, but his character isn't well-written. We never see him have a heart-to-heart conversation with his daughter, even after the secret is out, though the film depicts him as this loving father.
- The Third Act
- The Predictable Love Story With Heavy Influences
- Under-Developed Characters
Sufiyum Sujatayum has a fairly predictable love story, but it works mostly for its subversive third act and good performances from its lead actors, especially Jayasurya. Sufiyum Sujatayum is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jul 03, 2020 08:03 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).