Siddhartha Siva’s Sakhavu (2017) Movie Review
Starcast: Nivin Pauly, Aishwarya Rajesh, Aparna Gopinath, Sreenivasan, Gayathri Suresh, Renji Panicker, Sooraj S Kurup and Baiju.
Music Composed by Prashant Pillai
Cinematography by George C Williams
Written and Directed by Siddhartha Siva
Censor Certificate: U & Runtime: 163.49 Minutes
In the present generation, we can generally classify cinema into two classes. One, Film enthusiasts: where audience have good understanding and very much interested in cinematic values and capable to sight all the finer details of the narration working in the background. Two, Casual filmgoer: This is the biggest section of viewer who are simply not interested in anything else, but want to feel emotion and get entertained, while forgetting the present world. When a film satisfies the second category movie turns out to be hit and it coined to be a classic when it satisfies both the categories. However, coming to Siddhartha Siva’s fifth film Sakhavu, I’m unable to keep it in the same brackets as the film cannot be called a hugely satisfying film particularly for the second category of the audience. I was hoping that it would borrow “Land and Freedom” / “Winstanley” vibe and make it more intriguing, but the movie overall went through many problems of trying to bring that emotion of what “Winstanley” had.
“Freedom is the man that will turn the world upside down,” This is not a quote from the film but is quite an accurate summary. “Sakhavu” fetes the high-flown heart of a comrade ‘Krishnan’ (Nivin Pauly), who works altruistically towards the amelioration of people around Perumeda tea estates for decades. Years later, Krishnan gets admitted in hospital due to a small incident and ambitious-concerned Comrade Krishnakumar (Nivin Pauly), unearths the story behind this super comrade and turns out to be the torch bearer of Krishnan’s communist ideologies in the end.
The Script of ‘Sakhavu’ never descends into a simple robust heroism trying to bring out an action hero in the famous actor. It disdains the popularistic approach tries to tell an old tale through new lens and perspective without being over dramatic. The major high point in the script arrives when Nivin Pauly as a politician looking to break into top position tries to explain in point basis about the rules of poli-tricks. This one is carefully dragged by script writer but you can see he is trying to make sarcastic remarks on today’s idea of politicians and politics among the youth. Even a pure idealist can go corrupt, here the idealist is not the hero for a change but his side-kick. He is innocent, pure but by the end he is so influenced by the main character that he tries execute for him.
Well, there is no place for laziness here. Even the minutest scene in the opening gets a loop ending as the final scene with rain being metaphor for change. You can see the film taking off on a dry day with a ‘glee’ful ending, saying that the characters and times have changed and rain stands for hope too. We can also see the writer in the director did not succumb to any pressures of commerciality even though there are fights that defy gravity but they don’t look absurd. They gel as well as the friendship between the corrupt CI who gets beaten by Sakhavu and ends up being his close friend. You can see the character graph of a person growing with step by step and we still feel satisfied with not seeing him. Hearing about him, imagining us as him, does suffice.
Whereas the writing does falter due to lengthy sequences. Where an idea is conveyed in 2 words the writer used 10 and we think well we understand it, now move ahead. Also, the predictably moving arc of a man after a point gives nothing more interesting to clap about until you know someone like that in personal life. All said and done, few aberrations are good to go as perfection seems to be a myth.
Supporting the heedful director, cinematographer deserves a special mention, shooting on the Periyar locales and giving the rustic feel to the project as shown in the early promos. The action, lighting and the background score go hand in hand providing the much-needed energy to the project and so does the well worked upon soundtrack from Prashant Pillai. I particularly like the spirited track ‘Theyyum Thindaka’ and soulful ‘Madhumathiye’, which have also been shot fondly by the director in great mood. Meanwhile, editor could have been more liberal with his scissors and made the film less predictable.
Nivin Pauly, gets his act right once again. He made transition into making popularistic Cinema out of absurd themes and that seems to working for the actor’s penchant in him as well. He never deviates from character to deliver a punchline. With such restrictions as an old man he pulls it off convincingly. May be a Lal or Mammukka might have given it even more believability but Nivin gets to a level up there with those legends as well. One thing for sure, in India if any actor can suit to a beard look and swag it with any outfit then it is Nivin Pauly. May he continue on his quest to improve and better himself even further! Aishwarya Rajesh in dual characters has her moments, and thankfully she is not reduced to a prop. Other supporting cast, Aparna Gopinath, Sreenivasan, Gayathri Suresh, Renji Panicker and Baiju are really in good sinking deep into their respective characters.
The boldest point for any movie is to side an ideology for what it is and how it should be derived. Yes, Kerala is peppered with Communist ideology but that is because the leaders who stood for the ideas they believe in rather than politics. The true Sakhavu socialist ideology in world grew leaps and bounds due to growing corruption with capitalism and the film silently hints about it as well. The writer-director never tries to leave it on surface and he demands audience to draw parallels as well. The writing and direction complement each other in this dragged drama but delivers the Lal Salaam punch perfectly to the present generation. You can watch for the filmmaker’s truthfulness to his material.