Both Rajas, Bharathiraja and Illayaraja at their height of performance. One Raja setting the village scene for what seems like to be finest piece of storytelling effort while other Raja enriching the whole experience with the soul-searching flute. All this along with a wonderful cast that includes one of India’s all-time greatest actors, Sivaji Ganesan. I don’t know who steals the show and thats one reason why this film, watched nearly after a decade, blew me away. Despite shot with a shoe string budget which limits the story to a small village and a knee-deep pond, Muthal Mariyathai re-enforces storytelling capabilities and proves beyond doubt that storyline is a true hero.
A middle aged man falling in love with a girl who is younger than his daughter can’t be told more refined than this. The perfect setting of a village cast and an exotic romantic interlude of Ranjani form the rest of the film. Even when one would fail to notice the actual point in story when Malaichaami falls in love with Kuyilu, its Bharathiraja’s deft storytelling skills that makes you buy the middle aged man’s romance. Of course, the story gets a little twisted to still be politically correct that Malaichaami never shared bed with his original wife. I couldn’t overlook this defect yet I can understand the ‘thaaimaargal’ reason why Bharathiraja had to introduce this in the movie. I would have celebrated this as finest piece of cinema if only it was that way. But we know the limitations of film making in Tamil Nadu.
Bharathiraja paying a fine tribute to the university of acting, Sivaji, with the characterization Malaichaami gets him to under-play his role. One could not easily spot Sivaji’s best films for there are much more than what our memories can hold. Be it Uttama Puthiran or Bhaagapirivinai or Bale Paandiya or Kappalotiya Thamizhan, it tough to talk about Sivaji in less than 5 minutes. His role in Muthal Mariyaadhai is defintely a gem in the long list of best sivaji films. Raadha as Kuyilu and Vadivukarasi as Ponnatha share the accolades alongwith Sivaji. Without them in respective roles, I can’t imagine Muthal Mariyaadhai to be as perfect as now.
This is by far the one of best BGMs in Tamil film history. I ain’t exaggerating here. Just one shot, if you notice, you know why I’m so happy about Illayaraja’s BGM. The scene as the villagers start searching for Ranjani as she is killed by drowning in water. That flute just pierces you. Small pieces of BGM like these are all over the movie and I have to saw that this is Illayaraja’s finest. His second best is for Naadodi Thendral, again for Bharathiraja. If it is Muthal Mariyaadhai for Illayaraja it’s Swades for Rahman. These movies clearly show that the musician is excited about the project as there is always a special care in the BGM of every single shot. Malayasia Vasudevan and Illayaraja also kalaasifying the songs. Every song better than one another and it reaches the peak in andha nilaava thaan song where Illayaraja utters in husky voice, adi podi pulla, ellam duppu !!
Now that I’ve refreshed myself with Muthal Mariyathai, the next time when my mallu friends yap about mallu movies, I would hand them a recording of Muthal Mariyadhai and walk out. Rest understood.