Mathagam is the brand-new police procedural drama from Disney+ Hotstar. Part 1 is out for everyone to watch and enjoy. It is a Tamil-language drama that covers plenty of work that the local police in Chennai do to get rid of crime per se. This five-episode-long show is about a flawed police force that goes out of its way to catch criminals.
Ashwath And Vaidegi
Mathagam begins with the scene of Vaidegi trying to establish some physical intimacy between her and her husband, Ashwath, who is a cop. They’ve just had a daughter, and Ashwath has started to seem more and more like a distant father and husband. Vaidegi keeps mentioning that she is struggling to take care of her daughter. Ashwath’s conduct can’t be said to be typical male behavior, but there are men like him who simply refuse to understand the pain their wives go through pre- and post-pregnancy.
It’s implied that Ashwath falls short of understanding his wife’s emotional and physical needs. Ashwath purposely stays out of his home late at night so that he does not have to deal with any child-related responsibilities. Vaidegi’s state of mind is understandable. She feels lonely, depressed, and helpless. Ashwath, who should be her pillar of support, is absent most of the time, adding to her misery. Vaidegi, being a woman, is expected to handle everything on her own.
We get to see Ashwath’s boss, Sayanthika, the city police commissioner, and the dynamic she shares with her husband, Thiru. They are an apt representation of a modern couple. Thiru goes out of his way to support his wife outside and inside their home because he loves and respects her. Thiru is an example of a secure man who does not shy away from letting the world know that a husband’s role is not restricted to being a breadwinner. It is empowering to watch mainstream shows that decimate patriarchy and redefine masculinity.
The Intel That Changed Everything
Ashwath and his team, who were on night patrol duty, nabbed a most wanted criminal named Ganesh. Initially, Ashwath’s subordinates try to let Ganesh off by extracting a favor in return without realizing the gravity of the situation. Ashwath tries to overcompensate by immersing himself in work. He questions Ganesh further about the phone call he received from a certain ‘Guna.’ Under pressure from the cops, he reveals that Padalam Sekar has organized a birthday party for his associate, and he has invited every crime syndicate based in Chennai to the event.
Padalam Sekar had allegedly died in a car crash, but this new intelligence changes everything because he has been the most wanted criminal in the city for a long time. Padalam has always been favored by Cabinet Minister Veeralan. Ashwath and Sayanthika take it as a challenge to bring down the entire network and crush all crime in the city. The two are two of the many honest police officers who genuinely want to bring about a change in society.
There is no reason to doubt their intentions with this operation. The alleged link established between the minister and Padalam Sekar throws light on how pervasive corruption is. The minister has gone out of his way to shelter this criminal and his entire nexus. The entire revelation about Padalam Sekar and the party he is organizing was the writer’s way of establishing the main conflict of Mathagam.
As the covert operation begins, Ashwath and his team get hold of Padalam’s main man, Guna. This is a big catch right at the beginning of the operation. They forced him to provide intelligence using a SIM card that could connect all his calls to the control room of this operation. Guna, despite his hatred for the police, agrees to do that. Guna reveals that his brother was hacked to death by Padalam. The police manipulated the postmortem reports and bribed the judge to get a verdict in favor of the main accused. He ended up working for Padalam because he was in dire need of money. Guna’s ordeal is a testament to the ineffectiveness of the police and the legal system, which only cater to the powerful thanks to corruption. Guna’s intentions are not established when he decides to provide information about his boss. We assume he had some resentment towards Padalam for killing his brother, and he jumped at the opportunity.
The operation is halfway through, and Mathagam introduces each criminal who is attending the birthday party by giving out details of their illegal activities along with their aliases. Presented in the form of a criminal history sheet, this is a unique style of filmmaking. It is smart to introduce everyone, but it also stalls the narrative because the bigger arc is given to Padalam Sekar. The rest of the criminals do not have much screen time.
Padalam Sekar’s Power
We get to see the power of Padalam Sekar, who is referred to as ‘The Whale’ by his associates, when many of the crime syndicates refuse to attend the birthday party. He establishes his dominance by attacking Coin Siva, one of the leading criminals who refused to bow down to Padalam Sekar. Siva and his family are taken hostage. This power move helps him get everyone to agree to attend the party. Padalam has an agenda in mind that he has not shared with anyone. The makers of Mathagam spend so much time giving this birthday party a build-up that the narrative becomes repetitive. It slows down the overall pacing of an otherwise engaging show. We get to see how Padalam keeps this birthday party under the radar so that no police catch up to him. We also get to witness the difference of opinions and clash of egos between the crime lords. They probably believe Padalam is acting smug only because of Minister Veeralan’s support.
We also get to meet Padalam’s girlfriend, Safia, but nothing much is established about their relationship other than the fact that they have been together for a long time and that Safia is a divorcee. Padalam plans to take her away with him after the birthday party, which proves the man is planning something big and ambitious. We get to see him and his closest confidante, Nathan, filling containers with stuffed bags. We are guessing the bags contain money, but their purpose is not revealed. The police also establish that Padalam reports to his boss, Jambuk Sait, and refuses to make any decision without consulting him. We wonder what the reasoning is behind Sait’s willingness to back Padalam Sekar’s plan. It could very well be Jambuk Sait’s idea to gather the criminals under the garb of a birthday party. Everything mentioned above is portrayed in the most realistic fashion, which is why we were able to keep ourselves guessing what might happen.
Did Ashwath And His Team Find The Location Of The Birthday Party?
Through continuous phone tracking, thanks to Guna’s willingness to help the police, Ashwath’s team gets hold of Mottai Munni, one of the many criminals who has been invited to the birthday party. They hope to get more information about the location of the party from him. But the man is as clueless as the police because Sekar has not shared any specific details with his associates.
Sekar probably does not trust these people, who were, at one point, his nemeses. Sekar is the only person who is aware of the structure and intention of this party. We believe even Nathan and Guna know a little more than everybody else does.
The screenplay gets frustrating because the makers take forever to get to the point. We are worried that the result will be anti-climactic, keeping in mind the amount of anticipation that has been created about this party. The police learned of multiple locations that would be pickup points for the criminals. Padalam learns that Mottai Munni has not shown up at the pickup point, which puts his plan in jeopardy. Padalam had not anticipated glitches, but in the event of any suspicion in terms of the invited criminals not showing up, the party will be canceled. Padalam cannot afford to cancel the party because this seems like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. There is no guarantee that the minister will remain in power in the future to help him with his endeavors. All the invited criminals stuffed inside Tempo vans get agitated as Padalam has not given them the green signal. The agitation was bound to happen because the men that have assembled are rowdies by nature, and they are used to ordering people around. This time, the roles were reversed.
Mottai Munni is released by the police, fearing the cancellation of the party. They, too, could not afford to lose Padalam Sekar at this juncture. Mottai Munni is gravely wounded, but his being alive was good enough for Padalam to inform his men to begin their journey toward the venue. Padalam’s move is confusing. Mottai’s injuries did not ring any alarm bells or spark a suspicion that the police were probably onto him. This is a plot loophole the makers should have worked on.
All of them assemble at Erulapakkam Farmhouse, which is a remote place away from the city. It could be that Padalam wanted to gather the entire syndicate in a place that was not easily accessible to the city. Is Padalam planning to get rid of them all, or does he plan to hatch a con by involving them? It is well established that this convention involves a huge chunk of money.
Ashwath and his team moved to a lodge next to the venue discreetly. They get help from the Kanchipuram SP to carry out the operation. It is interesting to watch police officers come together to bring down a syndicate that could finish Minister Veeralan as well. Padalam and Nathan notice a police siren close to their venue. This sighting sends Padalam into a frenzy. He urges Minister Veeralan to order the police to back off. Padalam was assertive about his demands, which makes us believe that he was probably more powerful than the minister himself.
Minister Veeralan and Sayanthika, the police commissioner, were already at loggerheads about this operation. This gave him a chance to transfer her and replace her with someone who could be loyal to him. He also contacts Kanchipuram SP to back off from the operation by reminding him of the favor Veeralan has done for him. The local SP is forced to follow the orders, and Ashwath is livid at the fragility of the system. Sayanthika informs her deputy about her operation, and he offers her full support. The chain of events that took place to derail the operation to bring down Padalam showcases the power of bureaucracy and corruption. The entire police force and the minister’s nexus run on favorites. Nobody is willing to do the right thing for the greater good. Everyone wants to safeguard their positions and future. As mentioned above, Tiruvallur SP conveniently walks in to offer support to Ashwath and his group. He most likely got orders from the next-in-line commissioner of the city police.
Part one of Mathagam ends with Padalam still under the impression that the police operation has ceased. He talks to Nathan about the difference between the weapons that criminals and the police use. He believes a criminal does not need approval from anyone to use a weapon. Meanwhile, the police have the law behind them, and they require a nod from the higher authorities to use it. Padalam Sekar implied that criminals are free birds while the police are not. This is the arrogance with which he is functioning. The last scene has Ashwath and Padalam Sekar raising their guns, which is an indication that the war is on from Ashwath’s end. Padalam is probably gathering weapons to get rid of the associates he has gathered under one roof. We believe this was the perfect way to end Part 1. It creates enough curiosity about the showdown that is about to happen between Padalam Sekar and Ashwath.