Cast: Jyotika, Bhanupriya, Urvashi, Saranya Ponvannan, Nasser, Livingstone
It’s not common to see a women-centric film that doesn’t show all its men in a bad light and Magalir Mattum, though is a story of a friendship between three women, has its fair share of good, bad and ugly men. In the very first scene, as Jyotika and her mother-in-law, the ever amazing Urvashi, send off the only ‘man’ in their family, they wait for his flight to take off on the adjacent highway. As the lady from the previous generation, Urvashi tries to peep as high as possible over the airport wall to see the pacing flight. On the other hand, Jo, who represents the current people, climbs on top of their cab to get a better view. The director Bramma establishes what the film is about in the first 2 minutes and though the rest of the film is a predictable flow of ups and downs one would expect in a feel-good film, the director has sprinkled a liberal dose of his ‘touch’ which makes Magalir Mattum stand apart.
Even in the title credits, the names of Bhanupriya, Urvashi and Saranya Ponvannan appear in a design of three dots of a triangle. It’s a subtle reference to the trinity of Hinduism – creation, maintenance, and destruction – the female being capable of all three. Bramma doesn’t stop there as he goes on to bring in a lot of past and current age’s issues. The importance of technology, casteism, honour killing, male chauvinism, and much more are spoken in as-a-matter-of-fact fashion and IMO, it creates more impact than watching a documentary about it. Apart from making a great casting choice and opting for a women-centric film, Bramma must be lauded for not taking the National Award he got for his first and debut film Kuttram Kadithal, as a visiting card to rope in a huge star for his next. He could’ve if he had wanted to.
The trailers gave a clear idea on what the film’s about – Jo takes her mother in law and her friends on an ‘adventure’, leaving behind the latters’ so-called roles and responsibilities as a doting housewife. One is a single mother who takes tuition just to have company around her, the other is a plain Jane who is dragged into politics by her power-hungry husband and son just because their’s is a ward that has been allocated for a woman to come to power and the last is a childless woman who would have to bear the rants of her bedridden mother in law and her drunkard husband. What the trailer doesn’t show is what all they do in the journey. Never in a million years did I imagine, I’ll watch the three veteran artistes perform as if they’re high from ‘magical mushrooms’. Yes, that happens and there’s more too.
Talking about the veterans, the trio has showcased their years of experience and a healthy competition is visibly seen amidst them when it comes to acting. Jo, on the other hand, looks even more beautiful than how she was in her comeback film – 36 Vayathinile. Everything from her hairstyle to the costumes fit her perfectly and this aids in doing justice to the role of a new-age female documentary filmmaker.
I personally liked how the film got to the minute of everyday problems faced by women and despite being a man, I could relate so much to what the women go through which might not look as important as it is to the other sex. What worked is the fact that even with multiple messages said throughout the run, they never get preachy. There are also some connections with the 1994 Magalir Mattum – Urvasi, who is a part of both the films call Nassser as ‘Mookan’ in both of them. While I’m not sure if it was intentional, it did strike in my nerdy head. The similarities don’t end there. There’s a cameo just like how the producer of the 1994 flick, Kamal Haasan appears in the climax. But this cameo isn’t from this film’s producer Suriya but from another actor who has worked with Jo previously more than once.
But that said, the film has its share of dud moments too. The story is predictable and the flashback sequences aren’t as interesting as it’s meant to be. Ghibran’s background score sets the mood right for the film despite his songs not becoming hits. The cinematography too deserves credit for showing the picturesque hillsides beautifully.
Magalir Mattum is a slice of life of the women we watched growing up. It’s a mirror that showcases what oppression of a group might lead to and the repercussions that are bound to happen over time. But on the whole, the film proves that the destination is never important as the journey matters more.
My Rating:- 3/5
CLICK HERE to read my interview of the three legendary actresses, Bhanupriya, Urvashi and Saranya Ponvannan