Director Vijay’s new movie ‘Saivam’ (Tamil for Vegetarian) came as a answer to my question which I used to have whenever I came across his recent movies: Where is the director who made Madarasapattinam?
Sans big stars, a simple story and screenplay, and by assembling a group of almost fresh faces, Vijay has come out with a refreshingly beautiful film. The story is about a family getting together for a village festival after a long time. The ever dependable and versatile actor Nasser is the head of the family and is looking forward to see his family come together after three long years. He is also lover of non-vegetarian food, something that we are informed in a very interesting way in the opening sequence of the movie. Sara plays Tamizh, his grand-daughter who lives with him in the village along with her parents. Her father, we are told, is an MBA but chooses to stay back in the village and take care of agriculture. This is one example of the few interesting subtexts in the storyline. In one of the powerful dialogues of the movie her father says to his city living brother (who earlier chided him to move to city for better prospects than agriculture) – “Padikira kuzhandhainga enga irundhalum padikum anne” (Smart kids will learn wherever they study). It is just one small dialogue and the movie moves on. The screenplay doesn’t sag because of this. While the title ‘Saivam’ (Tamil for vegetarian) and the dedication (the movie is dedicated to those who promote vegetarianism) makes it amply clear what the movie’s message is, the message itself comes through the dialogues like the ones mentioned above. (Other reviews of the movie makes the same observation, and I agree)
The family gathers, and we are slowly introduced to the various members of their families and more importantly – their problems. At one point, the family realizes that they have forgotten to keep a promise made to their God – sacrificing a rooster. The rooster, named Pappa (Tamil for baby), is now three years old and is Tamizh’s favourite. It is decided to sacrifice Pappa on the last day of the festival and every member of the family is looking forward to all their problems getting solved. And then the rooster goes missing. The search for the rooster begins. Is Pappa found? Is it sacrificed? And do the problems gets solved? The rest of the movie deals with these questions.
The scenes depicting the search for the rooster should in all total nearly 30 to 40 minutes. Who would have thought that one can make a two hour movie pivot around the search for a rooster! The success of this movie is making this part interesting and engaging. While the rest of the movie and the end is predictable, one never loses interest and enjoys the search.
As with other Vijay’s movies, this too is a treat for the eyes and ears. The Chettinad architecture and landscape provides an excellent background for the visuals. Sung by Singer Unnikrishnan’s daughter Uthara, the Azhage Azhage song is an highlight of the movie.
All the characters, right from Nasser to Sara to the wife of the house servant, have acted really well. The performance of Sara’s cousin (I did not note his name) who comes from Dubai and finds it really difficult to get adjusted to the village life requires special mention.
Vijay’s penchant for getting inspired from other sources comes through in at least a couple of sequences. The scenes depicting the complaint in police station on the missing rooster and bringing in a charlatan to find the rooster (though this one turns out to be a significant move as far as screenplay is concerned) reminds one of similar scenes in Azhagarsaamiyin Kuthirai (replace rooster with a horse!). Nevertheless, this is one of Vijay’s beautiful efforts thus far.
I read in an interview that Vijay said that this movie is close to his heart. The end credits begins with a card that says ‘Naanum ippadi oru sambavathaala thaan saivathuku maarinennu amma sonnanga’ (My mother told me that I changed to vegetarianism because of one such incident) shows how close is this movie to him.