The name is unique. The style is even more so. A self-confessed bibliophile, it’s no surprise that Mysskin borrowed his moniker from one of his favourite authors, Fyodor Dostoevsky. In less than a decade, Mysskin has made a name for himself as a different voice in Tamil cinema. So what makes him different?
In one of his interviews, he says that he doesn’t make commercial cinema or art cinema. And that he wants to condition the moviegoers for a different experience altogether. To a large extent, he has been successful in this regard. Chithiram Pesuthadi, Anjathe and Yudham Sei are all fine examples of this. I haven’t seen the critically acclaimed Nandalaala yet, so I can’t comment on it.
All of them share common themes like closely knit families, crime, the plight of the poor/ people with disabilities and redemption. And then there are common elements that have been fodder for critics such as the item girl in yellow sari, the blind people, etc. But above all, what stood out in these movies is the angst against corruption and sexual crimes. I have never heard an angrier voice in this regard! Mysskin’s visual style is very unique in that where convention says to go with a close-up shot, you will find a long-range shot. It’s a different perspective altogether and it doesn’t take anything away from the film maker because these things hardly distract you while you are watching the movie. You will be completely sucked into the movie be it Anjathe, Yudham Sei or any other.
Most of the movies he has made are in the thriller genre with unique themes. Onayum Attukuuttiyum and Pisasu are the latest of them. Mysskin certainly ups his game in the former. It’s not just the theme that makes this movie unique. Its treatment, pace, acting and other technical aspects are certainly things we can really be proud of. As the title suggests, the protagonist is both the wolf and the lamb and the narration is all about that. The film is deeply philosophical with Christianity also finding reference in a few places in the movie. You will also find scenes where characters asking those existential questions for which you don’t have easy answers and are angry against god (the person sitting there high above). One of the scenes in a cemetery portrays this beautifully.
Pisasu is another gem that pushes the envelop in the horror-thriller genre. It’s logical, realistic and stays clear of popular cliches when it comes to horror. Mysskin says the theme of the movie is all about having a conversation with a ghost sitting across the table. And it shows. This wonderful director infuses a lot of humanity in a ghost…perhaps more those those characters in the movie that are alive!
I don’t think Mysskin has ever gone abroad to shoot a song sequence. Though rich in themes and style, most of his movies are low-cost affairs. No big bomb blasts, Tata Sumos flying across the screen or what the so-called commercial directors call the ‘money shots.’ I don’t know if it’s too early, but we shouldn’t use the term director before Mysskin. Because he is an auteur and an auteur is someone whose philosophy, vision and true style comes out through the movies he makes. Someone who doesn’t cope out by giving what the audience wants. Someone who gives audience an experience that lingers for a long time after leaving the theatre.
I just hope and pray that he doesn’t give in to the temptations of big bucks, phoren locales and moneyed studios. Because it is easy to find ready examples of some of the finest of directors falling flat on their faces when given lavish budgets and phoren locales! Now I don’t want to start a huge furore discussing Anurag Kashyap and Ameer Sultan. Or Bombay Velvet and Aadhi Bhagavan. Afterall, they need a break from shoestring budgets and running from pillar to post to release or finding distributors!!