Margazhi Thingal Movie Review: Run-of-the-mill romance pulled down by dated craft
A syrupy, ineffective romance with a testing screenplay
The words ‘Margazhi Thingal’ would remind people of two things; the religious ones get reminded of Andal’s Thiruppavai, while the filmbuffs get vivid memories of AR Rahman's song from Sangamam (1999). But is Manoj Bharathiraja's directorial potent enough to top these two entities? Well, I am not really sure.
Margazhi Thingal revolves around Kavitha (Rakshana) who falls in love with her classmate Vinoth (Shyam Selvan). While her grandfather and guardian Ramaiyya (Bharathiraja), seems approving of the relationship, he has a test for them to assess their perseverance. On the other hand, Kavitha’s maternal uncle Dharmaraj (Suseenthiran), wants her to marry a man from their own caste group. Whether she unites with Vinoth forms the rest of the plot.
Cast: Rakshana, Shyam Selvan, Bharathiraja, Suseenthiran, Naksha Saran
Director: Manoj Bharathiraja
Margazhi Thingal starts with Kavitha introducing a long list of characters and her association with them. This goes on for almost 10 minutes, after which, she starts narrating her love story with Vinoth. While initially, this template seems straightforward, the pace eventually gets so slow that it turns into a hard watch.
Set between 1998 and 2004, the film’s entire first half is dedicated to this love story. Just 30 minutes into the 2-hour-film, we are already overfed with two of the three songs. Even close to the one-hour mark, we are waiting for the conflict to be unveiled. Of course, the trailer made it clear that caste and sub-caste pride is the evil fueling chaos in Margazhi Thingal. But the screenplay takes its own sweet time to arrive there.
School love stories have quite the potential to be enjoyable and engrossing. Films like ‘96 or even Mudhal Nee Mudivum Nee are recent examples. But Ilaiyaraaja’s dated background music and the dramatic camera movements make the first half of Margazhi Thingal a syrupy, ineffective romance, and there is barely any momentum.
Having almost entirely lost us with the first half, the second half of Margazhi Thingal tries really hard to speed up the narrative. For example, Kavitha finishes a 2.5-year-long bachelor's degree during the course of a song. It is only in the last quarter that the film finally fires up, and the twists are unveiled. The central conflict, related to social hierarchies and caste, is a forever-burning issue which is still prevalent in several interior parts of the state and Margazhi Thingal isn't the first film to address it. Since the social message isn't novel and the craft feels wanting, we naturally wonder about the takeaway of the film.
While Bharathiraja introduced promising talents starting with R, like Rekha, and Revathy, Manoj has started his directorial innings with the interesting find Rakshana. She is the anchor of this sinking ship. Her dimpled smile, expressive face, and impressive performance make us wish she got a better launchpad.
Margazhi Thingal gets a tragic ending, and tragedies either leave you impacted or thinking. Unfortunately, this one leaves you feeling indifferent.