Anbe Sivam – Literature in Tamil/Indian Cinema
As Kamalhassan admits, he creates literature. Movies are his way of literature just as Shakespeare, Kalki and RK Narayan wrote literature as books. Anbe Sivam [Love is God] does this thoroughly and thoughtfully. It creates a celluloid miracle with various elements that will just make you think what an incredible artist we have in Kamalhassan.
Anbe Sivam has a simple message to say. See god through love. But at the same time it doesn’t dig grave out of believers in god. Though at the first glance of the name Anbe Sivam, given the kamal’s personal atheist principles, you might think he is going to be a messenger of anti-god in this movie. But what emerges is a formula ; thesis + anti-thesis = synthesis. Kamal joins with Madhavan and comes out with a synthesis of ideas and truths. Now, whose ideas are thesis and anti-thesis in the movie, relies on your perspective. If you’re the yuppie executive in modern day capitalistic company, like Madhavan, you might think considering yourself as Maddy. If you are a red addict and you believe in Lenin, Stalin and ofcourse Karl Marx, you are Kamalhassan.
Madhavan and Kamalhassan meet in a common situation of getting stuck in Bhuvaneshwar on their way to Chennai where they get enough time to share their ideologies and Maddy gets a hang of what life is. He is a lad who has seen lighter, brighter and creamy side of life being an ad filmmaker. He has never come across a situation where life hits reality on your face. Whereas, Kamal is all-knowing-yet-nagging guy whom you will meet in everyday life. Someone who has seen the full depth of life and one who has gone to end of life before disfiguring himself.
When they meet, Maddy gets irritated with the acquaintance of Kamalhassan and tries to ignore him. He realises after sometime that it is with the noble manners of Kamal he is able to get along and reach Chennai. The film talks about how Maddy gets to know the realities of life in this journey. The journey consuming the major part of the movie, kamal’s flashback about how he got disfigured and how he got to know ‘life’ is told as a small beautiful interlude. Kamal explains Maddy the realities of life in a rascally manner when Maddy tends to ignore them. When he experiences it himself, he believes them and starts looking life with full of love.
Kamal’s characterisation in Anbe Sivam is study on its own. A staunch believer in communism, a street play artist, an angry young man, a man who is love, someone who went till the end of death and recovered, a common idiosyncratic man, a man suffering from disfiguration and above all a man full of love on everything are various dimensions of this Kamalhassan prism. How Kamal grips the audience consummately with this character of Nalla Sivam is magic. Much has been said about his obsession for make-up and he proves it once again with his big scar make-up in his face and his one shortened leg. Same with acting, he weaves a portrait of a common man whom we meet in everyday life. This common man talks and yaps so much and has opinion about everything in life but when you go near him and enquire, he would be a man of sheer greatness. Frankly speaking, the movie left me thinking what a great man this Nalla Sivam is.
Maddy is the goodie-goodie ad filmmaker. Again, someone whom we encounter in day-to-day life. A man, who lives among the latest tech gizmos and latest fads, suddenly loses them in one single day and ends in a strange situation with a talkative man. His character is a tight ropewalk. If it goes beyond he would sound like villain. Maddy, who comes from the Mani Ratnam camp, has done it exceedingly well. At times, we feel he reflects a pinch of character in all of us. It is like one of those days when you are still superfluous in life and suddenly by the turn of events, face the reality of life at your doorstep. How Maddy digests these sudden lessons of life and wades through them is well handled by him.
The background score by Vidyasagar is notable. Nee Naan Sivam song is one of the best things happened to this movie. Vairamuthu, the lyricist has penned extremely thought provoking lines in this song and the music stretches near to the Titanic song. If you understand tamil you would appreciate these lines in this song better. ‘Anbin neelam ethuvo, Athuvey vazhvin neelamadaa‘ meaning the length of your life is not measured by years but by the amount of love you have.
Another surprise of this movie is the communist ideologies. The street play song talks about communism and anti-capitalism in detail. Pralayan, a street play artist has written the full script for this song play. Orginally planned to be directed by Priyadarshan, the director of Kalapani, it went to the hands of Sundar C. But as expected every scene shows kamal’s personal touch.
The orissa train accident has been well picturised. Prabhakaran’s sets for this is amazing. Also most notable is Madhan‘s (Cartoonist and Journalist) sharp dialogues which gives this movie a different dimension. He has an amazing sense of logical humor. One scene when Maddy ignores a dog and he says to Kamal it is just another DOG. Kamal replies saying turn the word DOG and it results in GOD. This might sound a trivial joke but when you attach it with the context, the whole theatre blasted out.
Movies like this are a long awaited relief for Tamil cinema. It is a perfect combination of art and commercial cinema. Well, If Anbe Sivam is a hit, we will have much more sensible movies like this. If not, nothing will happen. Just as before, we will be satisfied to see our hero and heroine running around the Switzerland highway with jazzy colors, singing a semi-romantic stupid song. As you like it !!!