Jyothika, in a remake of Magalir Mattum? That got us pretty excited, but nervous at the same time. Let’s face it, Tamil cinema has not been very nice to women. The heroines are usually just dolls with the mere function of looking worried for their male counterparts, and gracing the duets with their overly made up faces and garish outfits.
Jyothika has come a long way from Kushi, and is a feminist in her own right. So we have the ingredients, a feminist, a movie about female empowerment, and a star studded cast. What more could a feminist viewer ask for?
To say that Magalir Mattum (2017) was a breath of fresh air, would be an understatement. It’s probably a strong gush of wind, strong enough to make its mark in today’s misogynistic Tamil society. Bramma nails it. The casting is nothing short of perfect, and he beautifully weaves snippets of tales of female strength and determination amidst the main theme of women’s liberation.
The movie narrates a story about Gomatha (Urvashi) meeting her best friends from school after being separated from them for 40 years. Rani (Bhanupriya) and Subbulakshmi (Saranya Ponvannan) are both dealing with their own demons at home, but are elated at being reunited. The entire reunion getaway is orchestrated by Prabha (Jyothika) who lives with Gomatha, her fiance’s mother. Prabha’s relationship with Gomatha destroys the classic mother-in-law vs daughter-in-law stereotype and their respect and affection for each other is seen throughout the movie.
The magic doesn’t end there, though. The scenes alternate between the past and present without causing the audience a headache, and that in itself is quite an achievement. Ghibran’s music does the vivid, colourful cinematography justice, and the songs are a joy to watch.
The flashback scene of the three college girls being expelled for the simple act of sneaking out speaks volumes. It goes to reminds us viewers that if they were of the opposite gender, they would have escaped the folly with a mere slap on the wrist, with the archaic saying flashing at the bottom of the screen, “Boys will be boys,”
The dichotomy of how women are treated is portrayed so beautifully throughout the movie. On one hand women are revered, while on the other, they are treated as slaves and permanent fixtures at home, where they are expected to ‘carry out their responsibilities’.
While some may argue that #notallmen think that way, it is important to remember that in many households in India, and to a lesser extent in Malaysia, still function that way.
There is a feel good air throughout the movie, even during the gut wrenching scenes. This is probably because this is mirrored by the realities Indian women face. Magalir Mattum doesn’t admonish society for how it treats women, but it shows the injustice, as is. The emotional moments tug at our hearts, and the chemistry between the three ladies and Jyothika works fabulously. The minute nuances were a joy to watch, and Jyothika was the wind beneath the movie’s wings.
While the climax is slightly predictable, Madhavan’s cameo appearance is a joy to watch. We also particularly enjoyed the aftermath of the trip, how the women go back to living their lives.
The only way to induce a change in societal thinking of Tamil Nadu is by way of Tamil movies. Of course, social media plays a part, but it cannot match the reach of Tamil movies. We applaud this film.
To the Magalir Mattum team, thank you for being the change you want to see!