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Magamuni Movie Review: For a brief moment in the opening stretch of Magamuni, we get to see Arya, playing an inmate in an asylum, striking a pose that looks like prep for a sequel to Naan Kadavul. But the film quickly dispels this notion, cutting to the flashback – of how this character came to be in the asylum. We see the character, Magadevan, as a cab driver. He is waiting at a signal. A speeding vehicle hits his rear view mirror, breaking it in the process. Maga is angered, and tries to open his door hoping to apprehend the guy, but finds himself in a locked position with vehicles all around him. He gets a call from his wife, Viji (Indhuja), who wants him to ask for some money, but the cab’s operator isn’t willing. This sequence perfectly encapsulates Maga’s condition at a later stage, with higher stakes.
For Maga is also someone who plots murders for Muthuraj (Ilavarasu) a local politician. The brothers of a man who had been killed by one of his plots is after him, and manages to harm him. But just like in the cab, he finds himself unable to make a move. He will need cash to hire people to kill the two men who are after his life, but he has none. Muthuraj, who owes him money for previous killings, is reluctant to give him his share. And so, he has to agree to a new plot, which only worsens his situation.
Director Santhakumar intercuts these scenes of Maga with scenes featuring Muniraj (Arya), an astute lower caste person living with his mother in a village in Erode district. Muni is facing an equally life-threatening problem, thanks to Deepa (Mahima Nambiar), the forward thinking daughter of Jayaraman (Jayaprakash), a big shot in the village. The casteist father (the sly reference of the Ilavarasan murder by naming this guy’s farms after him) has mistaken his daughter’s admiration of Muni’s intellect for romance, and wants him dead.
Like Thadam, earlier this year, Magamuni takes an inventive approach to the regular formula of estranged twins and keeps us guessing about both these characters – are they two different people or are they one and the same? And how do these lives intersect? Santhakumar answers all these questions – and more – in the second half in thrilling fashion, managing to retain the suspense until the end. And in the process, he gives us a film that is not only a worthy follow-up to his debut film, Mouna Guru, but also worth the eight-year wait since then. There is an intensity in the filmmaking and the forceful performances – the casting, from crucial characters like that of GM Sundar, who plays a corrupt cop, to that of minor ones, like Deepa, as Muthuraj’s wife, or the actor who plays Jayaraman’s help, is just perfect – only elevate it. And for a change, we get not one but two heroines with agency. The sharp dialogues also include digs at the current socio-political scenario, and even add a touch of levity at times. Thaman’s background score is effective in adding to the tension in the scenes. And Arya comes up with a remarkably controlled performance that does a fabulous job in capturing the contrasting nature of both the brothers as well as the internal anger of the protagonist. Watch the scene where he puts across his point in a firm but polite way with the principal of his son’s school, after the young boy comes home with a black eye from a teacher’s punishment. It is proof that given the right role, this actor can be highly effective.