Muthuramalingam is a family business attempting to pass off as a Tamil masala village film. More specifically, Muthuramalingam is a caste-clan-family pride propaganda attempting to pass off as a Tamil film.
That the film title – Muthuramalingam – references not only the lead actor’s grandfather, but also the mythified historical character who is seen as a god to the people of the Thevar caste, is our first clue. Throughout the film, the actors and characters reference their caste, and therefore their dominance, their power, position, privilege, and pull, in their names, in their homilies, in their outrage, and in their songs and dances.
The film stars Gautham Karthik, Priya Anand, Napoleon, and Suman, among others. It is produced by D Vijayprakash, and written and directed by Rajadurai. However, Karthik – Gautham’s father – was originally billed to play Gautham’s father in the film as well. But a leg injury meant father and son couldn’t play father and son, and Napoleon had to be brought back from a well-deserved retirement to play Mookiah Thevar.
What’s worrying is the timing of this film’s release, and the overt references to caste pride, Thevar valour.
For the most part, the film is absurd, with every known trope and cliché in Tamil cinema in play – the mother sentiment, two children born on the same day trading places, Tamil culture, village setting, village romance, manliness defined by moustaches, flashbacks to reveal plot points, flashbacks to reveal an intriguing secret, hyperactive policemen, schoolgirl heroine. All this to move the film from one propaganda bit to the next.
A villain is built up in the first scene of the film, and it immediately leads to a clash. The hero proves he has the bigger, well, head. And then we expect the defeated baddie to nurse a grudge. And yes, there is one more scene where the grudge is referenced. But what next? The character and the man completely drop out. Another villain. Another build up. A bit of flashback. And then, another villain, another clash, another set of needlessly stretched out circumstances – much like this sentence – that ultimately ends in the shocking and explosive reveal of a secret we had all figured out 2.3 hours ago.
In between this, the hero goes off to seduce, er, romance a school-going girl, sing a song or two, while various comic actors come and go in an attempt to break the absurdities with more of the same. There is a protracted sequence involving a dismembered head which is an easy way to get a man to dress in drag and do a silly dance with a silly ghost.
Ilayaraaja is the film’s music composer. Perhaps it was his day off. The music, the songs, and the background score are insipid, weak, and banal. Kamal Haasan was roped in to sing for the hero-entry song. Why, we don’t know; presumably a marketing move. The song itself is the standard template of a song which allows the hero to mouth everything from respecting one’s land to respecting one’s women, to respecting one’s respectful history, respectively.
There were four people in the cinema hall. Four people in a hall that can seat 70.With the air conditioner set to cool down 70 people and their popcorn, it was so cold that it could (pardon the expression) freeze one’s tits off. And so it was resonant in a surreal way that in a song sequence in which the heroine wears a low-cut top, her cleavage was pixellated – censored – off.
Of course, no such pixellation protected us from witnessing the hairy cleavages of all the male dancers.
Muthuramalingam as a film is mediocre. We’ve seen these scenes and settings in many films before. It would have come and gone without making a splash anywhere. However, given the people involved, the caste pride assertion it espouses, and the political situation in the state, it can only be seen as party propaganda.
The Muthuramalingam review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.