DIRECTED BY A.L. VIJAY
STARRING: JOHN ‘VIKRAM’ KENNEDY, SARAH, ANUSHKA SHETTY, AMALA PAUL, SANTHANAM, NASSER, M.S. BHASKAR, KRISHNA KUMAR, RAJEE, SACHIN KHEDEKAR with Y.G. MAHENDRA and KARTHIK KUMAR
In an outrageous gesture, director A.L. Vijay (‘Kireedam’, ‘Madrasapattinam’) takes writing credit for his latest ‘flick’ ‘Deiva Thirumagal’, which derives heavily its core concept, characters and a good bit of its plot development from the 2001 Sean Penn starrer ‘I am Sam’, a lackluster, soppy melodrama in itself. The man, who at least had the courtesy to mention Lohitdass’ contribution to his remake of his 1989 Malayalam film ‘Kireedam’ finds none this time to honour neither New Line Cinema nor ‘I am Sam’s co-writer and director Jessie Nelson – it’s understandable that rights for reimagining could be expensive but then again a mention wouldn’t hurt. Yet another thing that the Tamil film fraternity, with its names such as Mani Ratnam and Kamal Hassan, ought to learn from the rising minnow in Vetrimaaran (‘Polladhavan’, ‘Aadukalam’).
Before I get started, let me tell you this. You would consider my analysis of the film to be heartless, perhaps even stupid, for this is a film, you’d feel, which doesn’t deserve an analysis as much as it deserves to be liked, which is what it intends to make you feel. You like the film because you’re supposed to, because that’s what they want of you – its writer(s), director, the actors, even precious little Sarah. But then, how good is intention as opposed to actual effort, or even worse – is there an intention at all? Aside from the universal desire to draw in some green, I mean.
‘Deiva Thirumagal’ is not a film for all ages as much as its lead actor John ‘Vikram’ Kennedy could claim to be so – it doesn’t come clean, nor do I think it tries to. Murthy (M.S. Bhaskar) asks his wife a hefty question about an hour into the film, something that’s bait for no healthy curiosity. The idea could have been inevitable, or maybe it’s because the adults need some comic take-back, but it’s still as inexcusable as toilet humour if not worse. The premise is frustratingly absurd, as incorrigible as the final scene of Godard’s masterful ‘Contempt’ in which case it was supposed to be – except in this case, the inexplicability arises from incompleteness making it nonsensical. We’re informed of a mother, a social worker, we’re told. A further probe into her prowess on sex-education could push harder on its ‘U’ rating, for ‘Adam’, after all, came with a fairly stern PG-13. Who was the mother? (not facts which we’re given, but consistencies) How did the relationship come to be? Isn’t something as odd as this supposed to be rationalized? Would the mother not know enough to take care of herself/ensure that she was around, at least for the sake of her daughter? Perhaps a few things are out of hand, perhaps fate cannot be avoided but it’s undeniable that it could still be fought. What I ask is merely a sign to show that she attempted it, like she’s supposed to – the film bears no evidence of any such thing and that’s what I ask for, let this not be mistaken for a demand for extra melodrama!
But barring the contextual outrage, factual mess, single-minded casting (in Anushka Shetty and Amala Paul) and a complete disgrace to court proceedings in times forever (something I really, really, REALLY wished Mr. Vijay would take care of, the only detail he needed to adapt to Indian sensibility), ‘Deiva Thirumagal’ is not unwatchable, thanks to the strategically cast little Sarah – the little miss Sunshine who charms by just being there. She lights up a screen that’s already extravagant (thanks to Nirav Shah) and dazzles with the naturalness in which she bonds with Vikram, a smaller and sensitized Dakota Fanning to his Sean Penn impression. And the film in itself, with impressive production value and comedic treatment, not to mention its stringent retraction to emotions part of local rationale, plays out to an audience who’d be only too happy to lap it up with no questions asked – the whole middle-class, Tamil-speaking fraternity, in short.
Two requests. One: To Mr. G.V. Prakash Kumar, wherein I request him most humbly to not mar the film's already super-saturated emotional content with more in form of music, making one feel overfed. And a repetition/additional request (hoping I'm allowed) to Mr. Vijay - please write your own film if you're going to take full credit for the same. It's a good enough experience to sit through your films if only you don't turn out to be such a spoilsport.