Mosagallu (2021) telugu movie review: Questions of money and morality

Poverty in childhood is often cited as a reason for someone choosing to walk the darker path and earn through illegal means. If that person manages to make more money than he or she ever dreamed of, isn’t it prudent to wind up operations before the authorities come knocking? But money is addictive, coupled with loathing for poverty, makes some continue to operate at the risk of the noose tightening around them. Arjun (Vishnu Manchu) and Anu (Kajal Aggarwal), the principal operators of the scam in Mosagallu (which means deceivers), are caught in a similar situation of wanting to let go of the lure of money, running as far as they can from their humble beginnings.

The story is based on the 300-million-dollar scam that took place in Mumbai a few years ago, where call centre operators posed as United States’ IRS (Internal Revenue Service) officials and conned American citizens in the garb of tax dues.

The modus operandi of a scam and the lives intertwined with it can make for a gripping narrative, which the web series Scam 1992 showed us recently. The scam that is the crux of Mosagallu, also referred to as the ‘Mira Road call centre scam’, was among the biggest scams in 2016, and has enough to keep viewers invested in the proceedings.

The Mosagallu team does a good job of simplifying the IRS scam to a mainstream audience, though at times it over-explains things. It’s one thing to have a narrator talking about what made fraternal twins Arjun and Anu go after money and another thing to have a voiceover stating that when A meets B, things take a different turn. Even if one didn’t know the technicalities of a scam, one would decipher that a small-time crook will embark on a road of high stakes, given the new-found support.

Anu and Arjun are complex characters, never giving in to complete remorse. They steer away from the moral compass, but there are moments when they wonder where they are headed.

Every principal character is flawed, barring police officer Kumar (Suniel Shetty). But Anu bears the extra brunt. The war between her and investor Vijay (Navdeep), for instance, is a sub plot where he tries to put her down and she gives it back, establishing that she is better at business strategy and accounting.

Anu is an interesting character and Kajal Aggarwal plays it earnestly. The portions where she needs to be a stylish business woman maybe a cakewalk for her; on the other hand, she doesn’t hide her freckles when she’s roughing it out, having had the gumption to walk away from a bad marriage despite the financial instability. The gender struggle pops up through the film. At a critical moment when she says she will take care of the business, she’s asked ‘the way you handled your marriage?’ Ouch!

Vishnu fits into the part of an ordinary guy gradually embracing the high life as the business grows. Tanikella Bharani is the conscience keeper, in his brief role. Mahima Makwana makes an impression and her sub plot is among the brighter things in the film.

The cat-and-mouse chase between ACP Kumar and the twins could have been better written. There are other rough edges as well, like Naveen Chandra’s character almost always portrayed as over the top.

The repetitive night club scenes as well as the loud signature background score don’t augur well.

Mosagallu is partly engaging but nowhere close to a gripping tale of a scam, which it could have been.