Certain movies have this quality of staying in your mind because of the philosophy and political statements it made. The new Santhakumar movie Magamuni was one such experience for me. If you have a star actor playing a double role of twin brothers, there is a big possibility that filmmakers would go for the most commercial interpretation possible, something like a Thadam that happened recently. But what I found intriguing about Magamuni was the fact that it always focused on creating well-etched characters. Santhakumar very smartly puts us inside that world by giving a detailed account about almost every character and thus even after you finish the movie, the statements will sort of follow you.
Magadevan and Muniraj are twin brothers who got separated in early childhood itself. They both live a separate life; one as a teacher who wants to give proper education to poor students and the other one as a call taxi driver who secretly does quotation works for a political leader. The film shows us the life of these two and what happens when their paths crossed at one point.
Maga and Muni are from totally different backdrops but are living a life that has parallels. Both are in a way victims of discrimination. In one scene we see Muni comparing plastic to caste and he says he is thinking whether it (plastic) can be recycled. In another scene, Maga talks to his wife about approaching things in a calmer way after she asks him to lash out at a teacher who had beaten up their kid for something he didn’t do. From defining God to mocking our obsession at fairness and admiration for English, Magamuni has a profound angle to it. What Santhakumar has done here as a filmmaker is that he plugged these thoughts into a film that basically feels like an intriguing thriller for the viewer. Maga’s story is very much like a well-etched gangster saga. The character has gray shades, the characters surrounding him are common and ultimately we sense the helplessness of Maga in the tale. Muni, on the other hand, is more focused and it was a direct caste issue that unsettles his whole life.
Santhakumar who makes his comeback to films after a long 8-year gap knows how to make a movie that will make the audience think about each character. In a scene in the first half, we are shown three workers of the character played by Jayaprakash leaving his house. Three of them are sitting on the bike and one of them goes back to take a mobile phone that was kept for charging. And in the second half, the charger and the three men on a bike becomes a crucial element in the story. Santhakumar doesn’t want to spoon-feed his viewers. He is absolutely clear about each of his character, including the bad guys. Be it the nagging wife played by Indhuja or the crystal clear character played by Mahima Nambiar, Santhakumar’s creation of characters that are not at all eccentric in any way is really commendable. Cinematographer Arun Padmanabhan plays with the color gradient and lights to keep us in the zone. Another gem is the background score by S S Thaman that really gives an adrenalin rush kind of feeling to the philosophical angle of this movie.
As an actor, Arya has definitely shown his caliber in this film. Some things are common and certain other things are really different when you look at Maga and Muni. Arya manages to give an identity to each of those characters. It is not the mere hairstyle change that is making them different. Indhuja Ravichandran as the loud and eccentric wife is definitely one good performance. I have seen only one film of Mahima Nambiar and that was Madhura Raja. Seeing her in this avatar in Magamuni was an absolute surprise and she was terrific as the free-spirited young girl. Jayaprakash and Ilavarasu got characters that sort of gave them a space to perform and they were really good at it. Deepa Shankar as the furious wife was hilarious.
Magamuni is a socio-political commentary disguised as a revenge thriller. I am writing this review almost after 24 hours of seeing that film. And yet the characters, the statements, the curiosity to know what could have been their past etc are there inside me. Magamuni demands an invested viewing experience from its viewers and if you can give that, the movie will form a special bond with you.
Magamuni demands an invested viewing experience from its viewers and if you can give that, the movie will form a special bond with you.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended