Direction: AL Vijay
Cast: Nassar, Sara Arjun
In these past three weeks, I have seen three Tamil films, each with a remarkably novel theme. Mundasupatti scared us with its camera phobia, Vadacurry got maniacal with the mobile telephone and, now, AL Vijay’s Saivam pushes vegetarianism.
Yes, without sounding preachy, it gives a message in animal welfare and prevention of cruelty. Vijay, who also wrote the script, is wonderfully controlled in the way he executes his movie (barring some scenes). And he has an excellent actor in Nassar, who plays Kathiresan, the benevolent patriarch of a large family in a Karaikudi village in Tamil Nadu.
Agriculture has fallen on bad days there (absolutely true) and members of Kathiresan’s family – except for one son, his wife and their delightful little daughter, Tamil Selvi (Baby Sara Arjun, whose role in Deiva Thirumagal, also helmed by Vijay in 2011, was just amazing as it is in Saivam) -- has flown away to far-flung lands.
Kathiresan invites his entire family to the village to celebrate the annual temple festival, and the members have much to exchange and later to quarrel about, meeting one another as they are after three years.
It is in the midst of this revelry and angst that Kathiresan and his wife realise that they have forgotten their promise to the village deity, and they set about preparing to offer their pet rooster in a ritualistic sacrifice. Tamil, who adores the bird, plans to save it.
As much as Vijay needs to be lauded for his remarkable directorial skills in handling a child actor (one other helmer who did this with sheer brilliance was Satyajit Ray), he disappoints in sequences where his frames are crowded. There are just too many characters, and they end up looking clichéd. It is a motley group all right: there is Raja, the servant of the household, and Senthil, smitten by his cousin Abhirami, among a host of others, some of whom do not even register.
But, Nasser and Sara get Saivam off the ground and manage to keep it flying – despite the distractions of the crowd below.