After making a stunning comeback with 36 Vayadhinile, Jyothika is back with Magalir Mattum, a film that focuses on women. Directed by Bramma, this flick revolves around three elderly women Gomatha (Urvasi), Rani (Bhanupriya), Subbulakshmi (Saranya) and a young Prabha (Jyothika).
Independent self-made Prabha is a documentary filmmaker who believes in women’s empowerment. Set to marry Gomatha’s son, she moved into her home and slowly stars to discover more about her future mother-in-law’s life. She discovers that Gomatha had two close friends in hostel at school. The three were partners in crime and during one of their notorious outings from school, they get caught and separated from each other.
Subbu ends up with a drunken, no-good husband while Rani marries an arrogant, sexist man in Agra who treats her like a slave. 38 years later, Prabha brings them together and Magalir Mattum takes us through this journey of how they meet and take a three day trip to be free from their ‘caged’ lives.
Director Bramma has tried to make this a feel-good film which champions the cause of women and a need for their individual lives and identity. However, the movie presents nearly all the men as sexist, patriarchal and treating women as nobodies. Only Gomatha’s son is the odd one out which is why Prabha falls for him.
Rani and Subbu are shown to be emotionally-suppressed and leading their lives in a monotonous fashion while Gomatha seems to be the only one who has a sense of fulfilment from teaching young kids at home. It is Prabha who comes like a breath of fresh air to ‘liberate’ them from the people in their lives. However, this portrayal seems to be lopsided given that the younger generation of women today also have challenges they face everyday to become independent and liberated.
We never understand what makes Prabha subtly push forward the need to make these three women fight their demons. What is about her life that makes her wired this way? The director shows us how the men in Rani and Subbu’s family undergo a sudden change to treat their women better but this is not realistic as he would like us to believe.
The movie has its flaws but at the end of the day, it talks about respecting women’s needs, thoughts and being able to let them follow their dreams. Jyothika is the steering in the film which cruises through the lives of the three Rani, Gomatha and Subbu. All the four women have great chemistry and it’s their camaraderie that makes us bond and empathise with them. Magalir Mattum is not aimed just at women but for men too.