Watching Malligadu, one feels that post Sethu (Seshu) and Pithamagan (Shiva Putrudu), some of the Tamil directors have been making tragedies for the sake of making tragedies! Being a Bala school kid, Ameer scripts a film that smacks of a not-so-inventive rustic realism for some and a story that is woven around a bizarre world for most others. All in all, you have a film that seems to ask you to wait for the mind-numbing climax. Nothing more, nothing less. All through the course of this more than two-and-a-half hours movie, your search for aestheticism/intelligence remains a chimera.
For the nth time, you have a film set in rural Tamil Nadu, a male lead who is an epitome of vulgarity and violence and a climax baptised in blood and pain. The film throws in the elements of one-sided love, the metamorphosis of Malligadu, a good-for-nothing bum whose only aim is to grace the cell of a Central Jail, but who ends up loving his childhood sweetheart (Priyamani as Muthyalu), the talk of 'jati', a flashback that has an outdated story to tell, and so on. Malligadu is a film where Karthi (his debut in Tamil, Paruthiveeran) does nothing but pierce the knife into someone's buttocks, cut the ear of a constable, dance with eunuchs, booze endlessly with his red knickers on, and all the nasty habits you can attribute to the most irresponsible youth in the most uncivilized hamlet.
What does the heroine do? She madly loves Malligadu; she has flunked 10th class some four times; she stuffs motton into her mouth after being beaten up by her violent father who cannot stand her loving a 'low-caste' person; she bunks the school and bicycles to the police station where her dream boy is jailed regularly, just to catch a glimpse of that unkempt, aimless crook.
Does he ever reciprocate her love? Yes, he does. Thanks to his uncle (Saravanan in a clap-worthy role). Just as this compulsive idiot could never be stopped from habitually attempting murders, he is equally unstoppable and uncontrollable in love. He dares Muthyalu's father. The rest of the film is about how Malligadu's sins come to haunt Muthyalu (and Malligadu himself).
From the time Karthi says that he won't marry Muthyalu because anybody could come and snuff him out, you realise that he lives his life on the edge. The film always remains on the verge of breaking into a violent culmination. The sheer savagery and the agonising climax make you helplessly sing 'Why This Kolaveri Di?'
Ameer's directorial sense needs to be appreciated, but the film lacks Telugu nativity in totality. Even if one would watch Malligadu from the eyes of a Tamil viewer, one wouldn't be thankful except for one or two sensitive scenes in the film. The rest of the film, after having watched the films by the likes of Samuthrakarani, seems inspired (though it might have been original in 2006, when the film was released in Tamil). The screenplay was tightly written and the dialogues, together with the dialect, were forceful and engaging.
There is something which makes you sit through the film. The performances. Karthi might have been surprising had we not watched 'Aawara' and 'Naa Peru Shiva', but Priyamani was still immensely likable, despite all the Telugu films she has done in the past. She bottles up innocence and obstinacy, emotes well through her eyes, and laughs brilliantly. You watch it in 2011 and say that the National Award she received for the role was well-deserved.
Yuvan Shankar Raja lends his midas touch to this rustic flick, and you feel as if Illayaraja was scoring for a Bharathiraja film here.
Released on: 2nd March, 2012