Good: Marumagal (1986)

There is a certain level of sentimental attachment I have for this film which perhaps makes this review less objective than usual.  Marumagal is a family-friendly movie – the sort which rides on charm and sentimentality, which technically has Suresh as the hero, but in reality the film’s heart and core is in the interactions between Sivaji Ganesan and Revathy’s characters.  In the film, Suresh is a carefree and lazy son who spends his time sleeping until noon or roaming with his glamour actress girlfriend Geetha.  Sivaji falls seriously ill, and after discovering his son’s relationship, demands to see his potential daughter-in-law before his poor health fails.  However, the girl is off acting and unable to return to Chennai immediately.  Suresh asks a friend to help him somehow, and to his chagrin, his friend’s bright idea is to bring in a servant-girl Radha (Revathy) from the actress’ home, with whom Suresh is on rather unfriendly terms, to act as the potential daughter-in-law to satiate Sivaji until Geetha can return.

As fate would have it, Sivaji’s character gradually develops a fond parental attachment for this “temporary” daughter-in-law, whose caring personality and honest values seem to embody those of his own deceased wife.  As a result, Sivaji’s temperament, health, outlook on life, and optimism about his son’s future all improve substantially thanks to her presence.  Likewise, Radha, an orphan who spends most of her time talking to the portrait of her dead father in her small home, basks in fatherly kindness she receives from him and the others in the home.  As time goes on, she begins to forget that this was merely an act.  As you can probably predict, the eventual conflict rests on the fact that Suresh and his real love interest don’t forget quite so quickly.

The biggest takeaway from this movie is the extremely charming scenes between Sivaji and Revathy which alternate between humor and sentimentality.  I don’t think there are many other characters who are so easy to like on-screen as these two as enacted by these two.  And the movie does such a great job of making you get a sense of the kind of fondness that the characters develop for one another, particularly considering that this sort of bond – that of a father and his daughter-in-law, aren’t exactly common themes.  Watching how easily Sivaji infuses this old man with charisma and dominates the film (poor Suresh) makes me sigh when I think of the image-obsessed actors of today.  For Revathy, her job in this film was to portray a woman who would capture the empathy of every member of the audience when compared to the glamorous-but-shallow “real Geetha”.  She does it effortlessly, and while it may not be one of her most demanding roles, it is certainly one of the most likable.

There are some criticisms to be made, of course.  The resolution to the film feels rather contrived – as rather have Suresh have a change of heart gradually throughout the film, they instead chose to make him stubbornly decisive until the very last few scenes.  But really, the ending is an inevitable conclusion that most viewers will see coming from a mile away anyways.  It’s a light and enjoyable film that would make for a good afternoon with the family.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Filmbuff on November 25, 2010 at 5:54 am


    I think this is a tamil remake of the hit 70s hindi film “Dulhan Wahi Jo Piya Man Bhaye” (Rajshri movie).

    This is my first visit to ur blog via Minai’s and I enjoyed reading ur earlier post on Bharatam – one of my fav mohanlal movies. I have also seen his highness abdullah which has got good classical songs. Unfortunately i could not find Vanaprastham during my last visit to India – tried to get one during my holiday in Kerala


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