Mathil Movie Review: KS Ravikumar just about salvages a middling good-intentioned drama
The biggest strength of the Mithran Jawahar directorial is definitely KS Ravikumar, who makes a solid start in his first-ever film as the lead
The Indian middle class fight back against the system is a concept that borders on fantasy. The average middle-class person in India doesn’t even have the number of his area’s police inspector. Scroll through their contacts, and it is next to impossible to see someone influential on that list. So, seeing a hero from a background like theirs single-handedly take on the cops, politicians, bureaucracy, red-tapism, and more, acts as a catharsis of sorts. It doesn’t exactly push them to fight back but gives them the hope that someone else might just be able to do it.
Cast: KS Ravikumar, Mime Gopi
Director: Mithran Jawahar
Streaming on: Zee5
Mathil’s Lakshmikanthan (a towering KS Ravikumar) is very much part of this Indian middle class. It takes him 40 years of salaried existence to buy a piece of land and build a house of his own. This dream of owning a house stems from a traumatic event in his childhood. The aptly-titled Mathil is what happens when a political party takes over one of the walls of Lakshmikanthan’s house for their political graffiti. The middle-class, highly opinionated, borderline regressive, yet hugely principled Lakshmikanthan fights back.
The fight between Lakshmikanthan and Senathipathi (Mime Gopi) does seem interesting on paper, especially the power and powerless playing a tug-of-war of sorts over a wall. But, the fight, after a point, loses spunk and is unimaginative. While Lakshmikanthan, who moonlights as a writer-actor of a theatre troupe, bringing in his troupe members to avenge the insults is very much in the Poi Solla Porom-zone, the scenes are overly theatrical. There is also a sense of deja vu considering KS Ravikumar is up against Mime Gopi who, after Madras, is once again obsessed with a wall and a photo on it. When the film moves past the humour scenes, which border on the annoying, and enters the ‘Avenging justice’ zone, it becomes more engaging. But our interest still wavers since the conflict resolutions are either convenient cliches or overbearingly dull.
The biggest strength of the Mithran Jawahar directorial is definitely KS Ravikumar, who makes a solid start in his first-ever film as the lead. Take, for instance, the scene where a disturbing expletive is hurled at him and he is slapped by Senathipathi. Lakshmikanthan’s steely glance and confident demeanour take a nosedive soon after the slap, and Ravikumar effortlessly traverses the two extremes. It is his committed performance that makes us root for his win even if the makers write in one uninspired pushback after another. Also, it's about time we retire the 'social media viral sensation' gimmick.
The central theme of Mathil — reclaiming private spaces — is interesting. At the end of the film’s press meet, director Mithran Jawahar said that he’d be pleased if the film makes at least one such real-life Lakshmikanthan feel bad about not fighting for their space. While I do agree with the sentiment, having its heart in the right place doesn’t quite help Mathil climb over the wall.