Mathagam Web Series Part 2: All's neither well nor does it end well
Remember the classic 'Veeram na enna nu theriyuma?' dialogue by Kamal Haasan from Kuruthipunal? He follows it up with, "Bayapadaadha maadhri nadikradhu!" What if Kamal's Adhi chooses to go for a long-winded dialogue about 'bayam', 'nadippu' and other words instead of offering that crisp explanation? That doesn't sound like a good idea right? In Mathagam, Gautham Menon's IAS Thiru Maaran goes on to do exactly this to spoil the entire scene. Both the characters are daring government servants willing to go to any extent for justice. However, the latter has an issue... he talks a lot. The character who was majorly in the background in the first part of Mathagam gains prominence in the recently released instalment. We naturally expect him to do something that could influence the narrative. Alas, he goes on a talkathon with Ilavarasu's Minister Nallangiri, his nemesis. In an ideal web series, Maaran's character would come across as quite annoying, but we aren't bothered a lot about him here as the rest of the characters are no less when it comes to spurting out extra-long dialogues at needless moments.
Cast: Atharvaa, Manikandan, Nikhila Vimal, Dhivyadarshini
Director: Prasath Murugesan
Streaming on: Disney+Hotstar
Though the long-delayed 'party', which was forever teased in the previous episodes finally happens in this part, and the organised crime planned is quite interesting, we are sparsely invested in the series as we hardly have characters to root for and relate to. On the flip side, the characters who are actually grounded and endearing like Vaidehi hardly get space in the story or screen.
Despite Prasath's consistent attempts to establish stakes for every principal character, we never feel the urgency because of the laidback pacing of the series. Ironically, the tale that unfolds within a night's time, feels like an eternity as the story keeps shifting from one character to another in an erratic order. I understand the director's intent to build a world for every character through the series instead of restricting his vision to one or two characters, but in that attempt, he unintentionally gives a back seat to his leads in most of the episodes.
His endeavour to make the series realistic by adding the practical obstacles and pitfalls a person would face in a real-life goes overboard at times, evoking inverse reactions. For instance, take the scene where Padaalam Sekar (Manikandan) explains the grand organised crime to the criminals. They obstruct his speech several times forcing him to restart again. Though this repetition feels like a pinch of reality in the initial iterations, it eventually gets annoying and by the time he gets interrupted by a new goon for the nth time, you can't help but have a hearty laugh processing it as unintentional humour.
The metaphors and philosophical undertones of Padaalam Sekar aren't helping either. In one scene a raging Sekar looks at Nathan in the middle of a forest and says, "Money doesn't matter right now. It is just a piece of paper. But biryani is food, and we have to get it at any cost." On the surface level, this could possibly be the most bizarre thing uttered by any villain in Tamil cinema. But wait, there are layers to it because in a later scene, it is revealed that he actually referred to a biryani truck that is loaded with hundreds of crores. Wait... didn't Sekar mention that money doesn't matter when life is at stake? But why is he after it now? Why use biryani as a metaphor for money? Why split a slow-burn drama series like Mathagam into two parts and three weekly segments dampening the already barely existing intrigue? Why did Prasath leave Vaidehi's character hanging? I guess life doesn't have answers to certain questions. Definitely, not the ones surrounding Mathagam!