Cast: M Sasikumar, Sathyaraj, Mrinalini Ravi, Samuthirakani, Saranya Ponvannan
It shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes for the layman to guess where director Ponram is going with the ultra-generic MGR Magan. Instead of an interesting first act where he sets up his characters and the place, he chooses to create the cinematic equivalent of a to-do list: we meet a father-son duo who don’t speak to each other. We’re then ushered into a courtroom where this father is fighting a case against a businessman who wants to convert a mountain into a quarry. We’re then shown the history behind two characters and the vows they’ve taken; one has vowed to enter his house only after his picture is printed on the front page of the Dina Thanthi newspaper while his uncle joins in by saying he will never wear a veshti until this happens.
The rest of the film functions like a checklist, with the director dispensing convenient solutions to these conflicts with the artistic drive you’d see in a pensioner shopping for groceries. The father-son conflict, for instance, is one that has resulted in several classics. But in MGR Magan, it’s neither pushed hard enough to make things funny nor does it succeed in creating tension. If not for the dozens of dialogues stating the issue between these two, chances are that we might not even notice that they don’t speak to each other.
That’s generally the quality of writing in this film. So when it takes a 20-minute detour for a mammoth comedic sub-plot about a man who has to get married without seeing his bride, you have to pause to double-check if you’re still watching the same movie. An item number shows up from nowhere, a sick man becomes alright, a love track starts taking shape and the hero cleans up a lake or something like this. Stuff in lectures on the greatness of traditional medicine and a lesson on what the egg omelette is called in Tamil (muttai adai) and we’re left with a pointless movie where nothing happens.