Naveena Saraswathy Sabadham- Respect for religious beliefs, Naveena Saraswathi Sabatham, Jai


Mythological films have almost become ‘things of the past’ and to be subjected to such an experience at the opening shot was some kind of an unexpected googly in the recently released Naveena Saraswathi Sabadham. The film shares its name with the cinema of the sixties featuring the legendary Sivaji Ganesan, Devika and K R Vijaya with just a prefix added.

Naveena Saraswathy Sabadham, NSS for convenience, is directed by Chandru who has used the mythological milieu to narrate a story about four friends and their misadventures, while conveying a message adhering to current sensibilities.

Firstly, NSS does not take itself very seriously and a few minutes into the movie, we realize that Chandru just wants to give the audience a jolly good fun ride.  Having said that, we can also not discount the fact that NSS has its own layers and Chandru’s intentions become clearer as the movie proceeds to the finish line.

These days, it has becomes a ‘cool’ fad to ridicule and mock various religious beliefs and practices to portray oneself as a ‘thinker’ which in most cases stem from being ignorant and misinformed. Therefore, it is very refreshing to watch NSS not take the route of pseudo-rationalists to belittle customs and traditions but communicate things in a different manner. 

When the film starts with a scene in Kailaayam (the abode of Shiva) with Subbu Panchu and Devadarshani as Shiva and Parvathi in celestial costumes that we are so used to seeing in many films, the first impression that one gets is- OMG (pun intended), is this one more of such scorn trips! But thankfully, Chandru has better senses prevailing over him and has used the Gods and his family to convey a very useful message to the audience.

Cinema is a very powerful medium and its permeating potential into the various realms of society can never be disputed, both in the positive and negative ways. So, when Subbu Panchu, while tallying the ‘paava-punya kanakku’ (sin-virtues), in the garb of Shiva says, “these guys have donated blood to save needy souls and hence there is some kind of hope left for them to be saved”, the message is sure to have its intended effect somewhere.

Chandru has also made the minds (we are here talking about the average ones and not the perpetual questioners) to think that blood donation is indeed a good deed and that doing so would somewhere elevate someone’s position in the tally of sins against virtues in the journey of life.

And Chandru, through the scenes at the island, where the four friends find themselves stranded, has also communicated that one’s actions are orchestrated by a divine power and that the opportunities are given which are either to be capitalized or let gone at one’s own peril.

Juxtaposing the current technological trends in Kailaayam, Chandru’s Ganesha is busy trying to lose his cute flab on a treadmill, Karthikeya is attempting to reach higher levels in temple run, and Naradha is bringing mango juice instead of mango to avert a crisis.  

There is also an issue of language that is brought about quite effectively. When Muruga switches to English, Parvathy corrects him to speak in Thamizh as he is known as the ‘Thamizh Kadavul’. This leads Naradha to make fun of Parvathy about her English speaking skills but the wife of Shiva silences him with a perfect diction of the Queen’s language in a very convincing way.

And when we find the going a tad slow, Chandru through Naradha requests Shiva to hasten the proceedings lest he will be left with twitter and facebook updates stating ‘first half of the film is good and the second half mokkai’!!

When you are watching NSS with a lot of trepidation that there might come a moment of deriding the Gods and sentiments, it is with pleasant relief that you realize that the crew has not resorted to any such cheap buffoonery.

There is also a respect for the old film when the four friends watch the old Saraswathy Sabadham and share their views which are really heart-warming.

There are films that talk about the advantages of abstinence from liquor, but it is crucial as to how the message is wrapped and presented. And when there is an aspect of God, there is always the reverence factor and most people would not want to take a chance. Perhaps that’s the reason Chandru may have opted to narrate his story through Shiva and Parvathy.

NSS might have its moments of south but just for respecting the beliefs of religion and products of yore, this attempt of Chandru is praise-worthy! 

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