Memories from Magalir Mattum

A very special note about a very special film – by our dear Revathy, award-winning film director, acclaimed actress and social change agent.

Last week I got a message from a person I respect and admire, Director Singeetham Srinivasa Rao – “Talk of the day. Magalir Mattum is THE film to be released now. We were much ahead ”. 

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Magalir Mattum was made in 1994, directed by Sri. Singeetham Srinivasa Rao and produced by Sri. Kamal Hassan, under Raaj Kamal Films. After all these years I feel proud to have been part of that project that dealt with an issue relevant for today’s times. Amazing that Kamalji thought of making a film that had no ‘hero’ and he appears in a guest role. Crazy Mohan and Singeetham sir are a combination which is a dream for comedy scripts and they are a riot even when they are writing sequences on the set. 

Each of us, Urvashi, Rohini and I did not have a second thought doing the film soon after we heard the script. I was thrilled to be working with both Podi and Ro, the way I called them and we became thickest of friends. From costumes to performance we worked as a team. We were shooting on a single floor of a just finished building in Vadapalani and that became our home for the extent of the shoot. Nasser was the male protagonist and he too was part of our team where we worked towards a better film. Singeetham sir’s sense of humour is something I will cherish all my life! It was his detailing that made every single nuance work so well.

I remember the sequence where Nagesh Sir acted as the dead body and Singeetham sir asked him to keep a smirk on his face for the entire sequence. At first I found it a little unrealistic but as we did further sequences the ‘smirk’ on a dead body’s face became the highlight. Singeetham sir told Nagesh sir to let his body go totally limp, which was both difficult for him and us, as we had to carry his entire weight. One can see how we huffed and puffed in every sequence moving the dead body around, it was not a performance but real, having to lift his weight around!

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It is always a pleasure to work with actors who are brilliant – it makes our performance better. Urvashi, by nature is a very hilarious person and she would keep us in splits in certain sequences where she would come out with the most ridiculous expressions. Rohini and me had to hold our laughter, else the take would go waste. Nasser was also one of the most comfortable actors to work with, who had a lot of regard for all of us.

In entirety, Magalir Mattum is a comedy but it had a beautiful underlying message of safety in the workspace, dignity for women and comradery. It addressed the way even a sweeper in an office is abused, but she too has her dignity. When a middle class woman takes a job to run her house, her husband is willing to take care of the house and child for her. Each woman has her reasons to remain silent to advances made by her boss due to her economic needs, it does not mean ‘consent’. The film also strongly tells that when people support each other and come together, change happens.

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Years later when I asked Singeetham sir if the film can be remade now, he told me, “Magalir Mattum became the film it did only because we… Urvashi, Rohini, Nasser and me were friends in real”. Films like this happen only when there is mutual respect for each other and we don’t feel threatened by each other. It’s so true and we can see that in many such films in the 80s where we worked as friends for best of a film.

~

6 Replies to “Memories from Magalir Mattum”

  1. I congratulate wcc for creating a good gesture from amma and the decision to expel dileep from association.Now the ball is in the court of wcc . Now it’s time to give application for inclusion of those who are resigned from amma.The decision of implementing internal cell is also a remarkable achievement.We the common people believe that the superstar like mohan lal , mammootty are friendly ,matured,and down to earth.But unfortunately a few members surrounding them are outspoken, stand against justice.There is nothing wrong with Mohanlal Calling the members as actress ,allegation made at press club ,kochi. But we don’t know why the leading member mammootty keep silent all these days and couldn’t comment on this issue.He must break the silence.The Executive committee must give freedom of expression to all members without any fear of losing opportunities in films and wcc and amma should work shoulder to shoulder to provide a friendly platform to the existing and upcoming generation in this film industry.
    (I, as an ordinary citizen expressed my view following Padmapriya’s invitation about the public openion thru blog.)

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  2. Seen it years back. Loved and laughed a lot . Three simple ordinary girls teaming together was in itself a sort of empowerment. Wish such films of the same genre are made now.

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  3. Simple Tips to prevent harassment at workplace:
    1.Nip in the bud-if anybody trying to harass you say a big NO at the first attempt itself. Act immediately.(Do not try to disclose after so many harassment)
    2.If somebody try to molest you after giving alcohol or under the influence of alcohol as we heard recently at bollywood,pls avoid having drinks with male counterparts.If it is compulsory have a drink with your husband.
    3.If anybody forcibly trying to harass you, report it immediately to superior.If no respond ,file a complaint to the nearby police station,which is available within 5,6 km radius.every where.
    4.I f you are not comfortable with any work place,change the work place or try for a transfer.
    5.Think that it is the accused facing humiliation in the society not the victim.
    So follow this simple Tips.
    So be brave,be positive,be alert.All the best.
    (Views In veiw of the formation of wcc,k kerala)

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  4. A strange coincidence that I watched this film for the first time just a couple of weeks back as I was looking up old Tamil movies in which Revathi had starred! Though the film was largely entertainment, it did have a big message. And I think this “coming together as a collective” is important in every sphere of life, especially where there is the possibility of oppression on account of a power structure. The collective can provide direction not only to the people at the ground level, but also to the people in positions of power. Only in the presence of such a collective that is responsible and has an understanding of the nuances at the ground level, can we have a healthy work culture. I see a living example of this at my work place that promotes such a culture, and abolishes authoritarian power structures. Best wishes to WCC!

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