Cast: Arya, Indhuja, Mahima Nambiar, Ilavarasu, Jayaprakash
It is often the case that a well-written script backed up by some good technical and acting crew can make for a satisfying movie experience and Magamuni is one such example. Written and directed by Santhakumar, there’s nothing new about this endeavor: juxtaposition of good and bad, shining light on age-old issues such as casteism, political violence, corruption and backstabbing while introducing elements of karma and redemption to complete the arc. What makes the movie worthwhile are the solid characterization and the natural progression of events.
Maga (Arya) is a taxi-driver and hit man for a politician Muthuraj (Ilavarasu). Also being a father of a 5-year-old son, his life revolves around his wife Viji (Indhuja) and the kid, creating a wall between his home and the dirty jobs he’s required to fulfill. Meanwhile Muni (also played by Arya) his brother is a good Samaritan who practices organic farming near Erode. He’s a follower of Swami Vivekananda’s principles, teaches underprivileged children in the locality, and all in all leads a very organized life. While Maga’s loyalty to his boss is barely reciprocated, Muni too comes across his own troubles when a journalist student Deepa (Mahima Nambiar) hailing from an upper caste gets into a relationship with him. Her stepdad (Jayaprakash) disapproves and gives him trouble. Maga tries to leave his life of crime behind but gets framed in an earlier murder case. How the life of these two brothers’ cross paths forms the reminder of the story.
Magamuni stands out thanks to its writing and in the nuances of its execution. It is a deeply moral film, but director Santhakumar has done a good job in gently guiding the viewer rather than to shine truth-bombs at your face. Arya playing a dual role has given a splendid performance and he’s the force of the film. Meanwhile, the women played by Mahima Nambiar and Induja are refreshingly solid, as they’ve been given important parts. All others like Ilavarasu, Jayaprakash, Deepa and Sundar lend their solid support.
On the technical front, cinematography by Arun Padmanaban hones in on what the director envisions and not just on the star of the moment. Thaman’s music is a big plus. Perhaps the runtime of 158 minutes could have used a bit of trimming. Santhakumar is absorbed by too much attention to detail, but that can be forgiven as the movie is arresting for the most part. Well worth the watch as it brings out some deep-rooted issues of society without being moralistic and self-righteous.