Mattoral is a beautiful celluloid adaptation CV Balakrishnan's poignant look at life in Jeevithame Iniyenthu ?
It tells the story of Susheela (Seema),a frustrated housewife and her husband Kaimal (Karamana), an uptight Civil Servant with completely different views of the world. Like most couples who go through arranged marriages and a few happy years, only to realize that they have little in common down the road, Susheela and Kaimal grow apart over the years and two children. Their shared interests wane over time and the life becomes extremely monotonous. Being the chauvinistic man he is, Kaimal thinks of Susheela as a glorified housemaid who has to take care of him and his children. Susheela, rarely speaks up about her emotions for reasons unknown, but mostly fear we are to assume. Lack of physical intimacy contributes to the growing chasm between the two, when both are closing in on an age where sexual relations are frowned upon. Strangely, one fine morning Susheela elopes with their auto mechanic Giri, mostly because he somehow fulfilled her desire to be a woman that Kaimal had not acknowledged for long. While women mostly seek out psychological fulfillment, men of most genres seek physiological happiness, or so the story tell us. Giri, the mechanic reignites the feminity in Susheela which she sees as the acknowledgement of herself as a human being first. She realizes that being submissive to Giri for his physical needs is one way for her to keep Giri around. Much to her disappointment, soon she finds that Giri is growing tired of her and is starting to bring home home more casual partners to have them all live together and chose them as he sees fit. Balan (well enacted by Mammootty) , a writer, and the only family friend of Kaimal acts as the mediator and finds a way to bring Susheela back to Kaimal hoping to patch things up. However, Kaimal, who could bear neither the shame nor the fact that his life was a failure on multiple fronts had already committed suicide when Balan and Susheela reaches the beech where they were to meet to have a new beginning.
CV and KG George have dealt with several very difficult questions our society fails to acknowledge even to this day when it comes to human relationships.
1. What is the role of women in our society ? Is it to stay inside the four walls of the home and take care of the family or to be an equal partner in a relationship and pursue her dreams like every man?
They contrast the experiences of Veni (Urvasi), Balan's wife, when her boss (Murali) mistakes her openness and frank conversation style as an invitation from her to join her in bedroom. The plight of women in all strata of the society in every role she plays, whether as an educated working woman or slightly less educated homemaker is pathetic when she is merely perceived as an object that satisfy some man's desire and interests.
2. What kind of mental fortitude would one need to not get distracted at the first opportunity when you are put in such a situation ?
3. Is physical relationship the cornerstone of a marriage or any relationship for that matter between a man and a woman ?
4. What happens when one partner loses interest ? How would you rectify that and is there a way to get things back to normal, whatever the new normal is ?
5. Should one sacrifice one's life for your children or is it better to leave that to destiny and pursue what your mind tells you?
6. When there is that inevitable conflict between your brain and mind, should you listen to the former or latter ?
7. Are all men created equal, should you measure a man by his specific actions or the cumulative sum of his actions?
Kaimal is portrayed as man with terrific moral values where despite the opportunity to flaunt his virility during Susheela's absence, he easily pushes those aside contrasting him with Giri who is looking for newer partners every day. He rarely drinks or has any of the so called vices the society is typically hypocritical about.
8. Maslow's heirarchy of needs has physiological needs at the bottom and Self Actualization at the top of the pyramid, with the Love and Self Esteem somewhere in the middle. Is Self Actualization really worth it for the price it has to pay to get there ?
KG George yet again demonstrates without an iota of doubt as to why he was considered one of the best movie makers of that generation. MB Sreenivasan's music adds to the melancholic backdrop of the movie until the climax scene where the music is plain horrible. Since MBS passed away in March of 1988 and this movie was released in August of that year, I reckon George took the help of a lesser soul to complete the rerecording.
This is a must watch movie for all serious moviegoers of all generations.