Director: Rajiv Menon
Cast: GV Prakash, Nedumudi Venu, Vineeth, Aparna Balamurali
A film on underdogs is anything but new in Tamil cinema. In fact, the heroes are written as so, so that when he rises from the ashes a la a phoenix bird, the transformation is ought to give a high to the audience. But Rajiv Menon’s comeback film Sarvam Thaala Mayam can’t be brushed under the carpet as yet another such film.
For starters, we aren’t given a conventional ‘hero’ but just a happy-go-lucky-guy named Peter (a role that seems to be custom-made for GV Prakash) who loves being a die-hard fan of a hero. While it’s Thalapathy Vijay, in the beginning, his hero-worshipping soon changes focuses to veteran percussionist Vembu Iyer (Nedumudi Venu) after seeing the latter perform. What follows is a series of insults and tribulations that hit Peter like how he wants to hit the mridangam, for which he even goes against the words of his mridangam making father Johnson (a brilliant Kumaravel).
The biggest takeaway from the film is how music transcends time, culture, tradition, practises and even superstitions. What I enjoyed most was the irony of a younger wannabe artist – Mani (Vineeth) being more casteist than the older, veteran Vembu Iyer. Does that mean the latter isn’t one? Definitely not. Though he’s good enough to hand over a rudraksha to a Peter just because the latter found the seed to be fascinating, he wouldn’t want to touch him. The film almost tries to normalise a powerful man not treating others as equals which, despite the change in heart in the climax, doesn’t seem to unroot the thought they had planted throughout the film.
In a particular scene, a hopeless Peter gets a bike from his fan club leader for a journey throughout the country (It would’ve been better had they shown him wearing a helmet, but hey, he’s not a Thala fan in the film) where he experiences various formats of music. That’s when he crosses the famous living roots bridge built by the Khasi and Jaintia tribals made from tree roots in Meghalaya. Though I might be exaggerating here, it felt more like Menon getting to the root of the problem and narrowing the bridge between classes using music. Even if this wasn’t an intentional metaphor, there are way too many to make note of when it comes to the discrimination a man can face only because of belonging to a different caste. In another particular scene, Peter and Johnson stop at their village’s teashop only for them to get served in a plastic cup instead of the glass ones. Once again, though Rajiv Menon touches a sensitive topic, he stops with scratching just the surface alone. It was more apparent with the entire ‘Peter being a Vijay fan’ angle which seems to have been brought in just to establish how he needs an idol to gawk at.
What didn’t work was the underwhelming romance angle which looks like has been enforced to make sure there’s at least one significant woman character in the film. I would’ve enjoyed more if instead of that character, more screen space had been given to Peter’s mother and Vembu Iyer’s wife (dancing veteran Shanta Dhananjayan) considering that the advice given by them to the Peter and Vembu Iyer respectively makes more sense than what Sara (Aparna Balamurali) does. The reality music show climax too is an overused troupe which obviously ends in a predictable manner. While AR Rahman’s Sarvam Thaala Mayam track is a chartbuster, the rest of the songs from the album fail to make the same appeal and fortunately, the songs too are used as montages. And while we’re talking about the
Despite trying to fit in a genre between that of a feel-good film and a socially conscious one, Sarvam Thaala Mayam has its moments, making it a film one wouldn’t mind catching at the big screens.
My Rating: 2.5/5