'We judge empowered women'
...Director Bramma minces no words as he discusses the inspirations for the characters of Magalir Mattum
After seeing Magalir Mattum, I knew I had to take my mother to watch it. When we went, I couldn’t but notice how much fun she had. She laughed a lot and cried a bit. She eventually told me that the film brought back memories of her good old days. "This is what we aimed at," says director Bramma.
The story itself is taken from his life. "I gifted a tab to my mother and my wife introduced her to Facebook. Soon, she got in touch with two of her long-lost friends. They were a gang of three in college. What you see on screen is their story. The difference, of course, is that my wife didn't take my mother and her friends on a road trip like Jo did," he smiles.
Bramma recalls how his mother had always wanted to hang out with her friends even as she was nearing her 40s. "But she had other responsibilities. I have hardly seen her rest. She turned into one of those women who feel life is all right, just by looking after their husband and kids," he says.
The film is the coming together of many such stories, adds Bramma. "But as a filmmaker, I wanted more details. I tried to understand what women go through. I'd say that Magalir Mattum is a fictional account of many true stories."
The filmmaker was clear that he didn’t want to make another intense drama like his debut, Kuttram Kadithal. "The audience and critics raved about Kuttram Kadithal. It fetched me recognition and awards. But the film didn't bring in women to theatres, while this one did. My neighbors and maids thoroughly enjoyed the film!”
Bramma expected to be criticised for making a women-centric film. "We always say that women should be empowered but the moment they do, we judge them. All men are chauvinists. A few admit to it, many don't. I knew I wanted to make a film about this," he says.
He says Madhavan's role was somewhat inspired by his own character. "I don't know how to cook, but I help my wife and mother with cleaning and so on. But yes, men must cook," he adds.
Our conversation veers to Livingston's character. "I know a person exactly like him. He gets drunk every day, comes home late, sings Ilaiyaraaja songs. Matha ella neramum seruppa thooki podra manushan, kudichaa mattum ozhunga shoe rack-la vepparu," he laughs.
Any reason part of the story was placed in Chattisgarh? "The State is progressive. If you stepped into their homes by 9 in the morning, you won't see women at all. They would have left to the fields for work. Men chit-chat and take care of their kids," he smiles.
While scripting, he met a community called Ghotul in Chattisgarh. "They have a different way of upbringing. Each evening, they sing, dance and tell stories. Also, they have the freedom to choose their partners. In fact, according to them, a change of partners is often considered natural and healthy. They enjoy unsupervised sexual freedom and can even get married after childbirth. Sometimes, I wonder if being uneducated has its own advantages. Inga namba romba padichu padichu, buddhi ellam mazhungi pochu!"
Filmmaking, Bramma feels, is a compromise. "As a director, I was trying to make as few compromises as I could. During the climax scene, Urvashi, Saranya and Bhanu Priya were supposed to wear half-saris (their school uniform), but one of them was reluctant. So, I had to go for pattu podavais. But it’s okay; I mainly wanted to find an emotional hook on which to hang the entire film. I think I achieved it."